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Freedom of Expression Banned: 6 Iranian Filmmakers Imprisoned

by Sydney Levine
October 2, 2011 2:30 AM
2 Comments
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One of my dearest friends in the business, Katayoon Shahabi, international sales agent and producer of the Iranian documentary A Brief Peace is among the six Iranian filmmakers just imprisoned in Iran for working for the BBC. Her company Sheherazade is the only independent international sales agent in Iran. She sold Iron Island to my other dear friend Don Krim (whose memorial service will be held in N.Y. September 25.) I am completely unnerved by this news. Read the full story in IndieWIRE.

You can also sign a petition here for the prisoners' release.

Festivals Mannheim-Heidelberg and San Sebastian so far have issued formal protests. See below the jump.

Arbitrary arrests in Iran Jury member and partner of the Mannheim- Heidelberg Film Festival arrested – Call for active solidarity Mannheim-Heidelberg, 23. September 2011 --- Katayoon Shahabi, Iranian sales agents and producer, has been arrested together with five other Iranian filmmakers. The International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg protests, helplessly but full of anger, against a regime, which acts in a ruthless and inhuman way that reminds of Nazi-Germany. Katayoon Shahabi, who has been the Festival’s business partner for many years and who was also member of the International Jury in 2000, is a very sensitive and educated person, who has been caring for Iranian filmmakers with great love for the art of cinema for many years. She loves the culture of her country, at the same time having caveats against many cultural aspects of the Western world which she has known while studying in Paris. The International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg appeals to all other international film festivals for noticeable action. The Festival itself will, for the time being, only show films from Iran which decidedly turn on the regime, under the condition that those responsible have already left the country and their lives are in no danger. It also calls to the other festivals to, for the time being, not issue accreditations to persons who more or less openly work for the regime, such as the organisation Farabi or the undercover organisation Visual Media Institute. -- Dr Michael Koetz.

The San Sebastian Festival condems the arrest of six iranian filmmakers. On September 17th, six filmmakers were arrested by the Iranian authorities on charges of espionage: Mojtaba Mir Tahmaseb, Katayoon Shahabi, Hadi Afarideh, Naser Safarian, Shahnam Bazdar and Mohsen Shahrnazdar. The detainees have been accused of collaborating with the BBC network, forbidden in Iran, and of portraying a negative image of the country in their films. an Sebastian Festival wishes to express its disapproval and condemnation of this new assault on freedom of expression by the Iranian government and its persecution of the filmmakers who struggle to reflect their country’s reality. The Festival also expresses its moral support of the arrested filmmakers, among whom are the producer and distributor Katayoon Shahabi, who has long-standing professional and emotional ties with the Festival. Three films produced by her have competed in different Festival sections: Mooshaak e Kaghazi (Zabaltegi-New Directors, 1997), Don (Official Selection, 1998) and 10+4 (Zabaltegi-New Directors, 2007).

Katayoon and I have enjoyed so much together over the years. We had a wonderful time at the Dubai film festival together where she gave me her Iranian view of all the different Middle Eastern groups there.

Katayoon went to the University in Paris and just like in the recent film Women Without Men when people of all persuasions returned home to Iran to build a new government, she too returned, filled with the hopeful enthusiasm that her years in Paris engendered.

Here is a clear explanation of what preceded the Shah's overthrowal and Khomeini's rise. Many may take exception to this version, but to my untrained eye, it seemed like an objective, fair and balanced account.

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2 Comments

  • Jason Kohl | September 24, 2011 8:07 AMReply

    This is so terrible. I signed the petition. Hope you are well.

    Jason

  • Hannah Fisher | September 23, 2011 9:53 AMReply

    Thank you Sydney. My heart really goes out to Katayoun,who is a lovely, and deeply sensitive person as you say. Thank you for publishing this great piece, and for letting me know.
    Hannah

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