More than 17,000 filmmakers, actors, writers and other personalities have already signed an appeal in support of acclaimed Iranian director Jafar Panahi and Mahamad Rasoulov who have been sentenced to six years in prison in addition to Panahi’s 20-year ban on filmmaking.
“These sentences are shameful, intolerable and unfitting for two film makers whose only ‘crime’ is to want to make films freely in their country,” says the petition.
Launched on the initiative of the Cannes Film Festival, La Cinémathèque française and the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (SACD), the appeal was soon taken up by a large number of cultural and film organisations (festivals, associations of film makers, producers, distributors and cinema owners, and art-house cinemas), in France and overseas.
The mobilisation continues, and even looks set to be stepped up, until the sentences handed down by the Court of Tehran are lifted, and Jafar Panahi and Mahamad Rasoulov are allowed to remain free and carry on making films.
On 6 January 2011, a letter signed by Gilles Jacob (chairman of the Cannes Film Festival), Costa-Gavras (chairman of La Cinémathèque française) and Laurent Heynemann (chairman of the SACD) was addressed to the Iranian Ambassador in France, requesting a meeting with him in order to personally hand him the list of 17,000 names from all over the world in support of the two sentenced film makers. This letter concludes with this sentence: “We want to obtain information on the precise situation of Jafar Panahi and Mahamad Rasoulov, and we believe it is still possible to modify the course of things to guarantee their freedom and their fundamental rights.”
Panahi, 49, is a vocal supporter of the Iranian Green Movement, was initially arrested in July 2009 while participating in a memorial for green martyr Neda Agha-Soltan, whose shooting death was caught on video. Later that year, Panahi attended the Montreal Film Festival wearing a green scarf in support of the Iranian protesters.
The renowned filmmaker was arrested again in early March 2010, but released after more than two months in custody.
In December, Panai was sentenced to six years in jail and a 20-year prohibition against making movies, writing scripts, travelling abroad and talking to the media. Fellow Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulov was given a similar sentence.
Some of the names who have signed the petition include:
Fatih Akin, Denys Arcand, Dario Argento, Olivier Assayas, Robert Badinter, Russel Banks, Nathalie Baye, Marco Bellocchio, Lucas Belvaux, Bertrand Bonello, Pascal Bonitzer, Claude Brasseur, Catherine Breillat, Sophie Calle, Laurent Cantet, Philippe Carcassonne, Jean-Claude Carrière, Patrice Chéreau, Philippe Claudel, Jérôme Clément, John M. Coetzee, Francis F. Coppola, Costa-Gavras, David Cronenberg, Alfonso Cuaron, Joe Dante, Luc et Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Antoine de Caunes, Alain Delon, Jonathan Demme, Guillermo del Toro, Catherine Deneuve, Claire Denis, Arnaud Desplechin, Emmanuelle Devos, Maria de Medeiros, Carlos Diegues, Olivier Ducastel, Bruno Dumont, Atom Egoyan, Victor Erice, Philippe Faucon, Pascale Ferran, Abel Ferrara, Laurence Ferreira Barbosa, Milos Forman, Eric Gautier, Terry Gilliam, Romain Goupil, André Glucksmann, Michel Gondry, James Gray, Eugene Green, Pascal Greggory, Françoise Hardy, Monte Hellman, Laurent Heynemann, Walter Hill, Michael Hodges, Hong Sang-soo, Christophe Honoré, Isabelle Huppert, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu, Otar Iosseliani, Gilles Jacob, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Arthur Joffé, Terry Jones, Marin Karmitz, Peter Kassovitz, Darius Khondji, Aki Kaurismäki, Georges Kiejman, Yannis Kokkos, Harmony Korine, Jan Kounen, Philippe Labro, Bruce LaBruce, Joachim Lafosse, John Landis, Claude Lanzmann, Eric Lartigau, Thierry Lhermitte, Michel Leclerc, Marc Levy,David Lynch, Jim McBride, Tonie Marshall, Jacques Martineau, Chris Marker, Matilda May, Mike Medavoy, Helen Mirren, Patrick Modiano, Jeanne Moreau, Yolande Moreau, Yousry Nasrallah, Jean-Luc Nancy, Marie NDiaye, Olivier Nora, Dominique Noguez, Michel Ocelot, Bulle Ogier, François Ozon, Katherine Pancol, Raoul Peck, Sean Penn, Lucian Pintilie, Marie-France Pisier, Rafi Pitts, Sam Raimi, Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Carlos Reygadas, Jacques Rivette, Christian Rouaud, Walter Salles, Pierre Salvadori, Gus Van Sant, Riad Sattouf, Marjane Satrapi, Paul Schrader, Jerry Schatzberg, Barbet Schroeder, Bertrand Tavernier, Pablo Trapero, Djamshed Usmonov, Agnès Varda, Sandrine Veysset, Lars Von Trier, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, François Weyergans, Jia Zhang-Ke