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Makhmalbafs, Ghobadi, Shirin Neshat Call for Iran Film Boycott; Sanction Industry Officials

by Anthony Kaufman
October 18, 2011 12:34 PM
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As the repression of Iranian filmmakers and actors intensifies, a group of prominent Iranians -- including artist Shirin Neshat, Mohsen Makhmalbalf and Oscar-nominated actress Shohreh Aghdashlou -- have called on countries worldwide to boycott official Iranian film and TV organizations and sanction its members.

According to a release provided to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on Tuesday, the group asks "countries throughout the world; international film festivals, and film and television organizations, to condemn the arrest and intimidation of filmmakers in Iran and to ask the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release the arrested filmmakers immediately."

"We also ask you to boycott the official Iranian film and television organizations and impose tough visa sanctions against Iranian film and television officials."

The signatories include a number of filmmakers whose movies have been released in the U.S. to much acclaim, including Bahman Ghobadi ("A Time For Drunken Horses"), Babak Payami ("Secret Ballot") and Mohsen and Samira Makhmalbaf ("Kandahar," "The Apple").

The statement is as follows:

It has been a month since the unfair arrest of five filmmakers, three of whom have been temporarily released on bail after enduring harsh interrogations and many days in solitary confinement.

Renowned documentary filmmaker, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, and one of the most successful Iranian film distributors, Katayoon Shahabi, are still languishing in Evin Prison in Tehran.

Our information from inside Iran indicates that the arrested filmmakers have been under pressure by the authorities to confess, on camera and in writing, that they were agents of western powers such as France and Britain.

The families of the prisoners have testified that their loved ones are kept in inhuman conditions, have lost weight and do not look healthy.

On the 10th of October 2011, Ms. Marzieh Vafamehr (pictured), who has been in prison since July 2011, was sentenced to one year in prison and 90 lashes for taking part in a film, despite the fact that it was made with the official permission of the Iranian authorities. Actor Ramin Parchami, who was arrested during protests in February 2011, was also recently sentenced to one year’s imprisonment.

On the 14th of October 2011, the Appeal Court upheld the sentence of the lower court given to winning filmmaker Jafar Panahi, of six-years prison and a ban on writing scripts and making films for twenty years. The Appeal Court sentenced renowned filmmaker Mohammad Rassulof, who was arrested with Panahi in March 2010, to one year’s imprisonment.

In the past few months, dozens of filmmakers have been interrogated and intimidated by security agents from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and the Revolutionary Guards.

We, the undersigned, ask ministers of foreign affairs and culture of countries throughout the world; international film festivals, and film and television organizations, to condemn the arrest and intimidation of filmmakers in Iran and to ask the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to release the arrested filmmakers immediately.

We also ask you to boycott the official Iranian film and television organizations and impose tough visa sanctions against Iranian film and television officials.

Shohreh Aghdashlou (Actress)

Reza Allamehzadeh (Filmmaker)

Shoja Azari (Filmmaker)

Maziar Bahari (Filmmaker)

Abbas Bakhtiari (Producer)

Nazanin Boniadi (Actress)

Bahman Ghobadi (Filmmaker)

Hana Makhmalbaf (Filmmaker)

Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Filmmaker)

Samira Makhmalbaf (Filmmaker)

Navid Negahban (Actor)

Shirin Neshat (Filmmaker)

Sepideh Parsi (Filmmaker)

Babak Payami (Filmmaker)

Faramarz Rahber (Fimmaker)

Ali Samadi Ahadi (Filmmaker)

Nima Sarvestani (Filmmaker)

Shabnam Tolouei (Actress)

Houshang Tozie (Actor)

Pej Vahdat (Actor)

Necar Zadegan (Actress)

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