Filmmaking Community Petitions For Jafar Panahi’s Freedom

Iranian filmmaker, Jafar Panahi, was arrested at his home on March 1st and has been held in Tehran’s Evin prison since. Panahi was the director of award-winning films such as “The White Balloon” (1995) and “The Circle” (2000).

Islamic Republic officials charged Panahi with “unspecified crimes” and has since reversed the charges now accusing him of making films against their regime. His films have been banned in Iran for the past 10 years.

Filmmaker and actors in Hollywood have come to Panahi’s aide by composing and signing a petition for the contriversal filmmaker’s release.

Jafar Panahi is a very well decorated and celebrated filmmaker internationally and in the U.S. He is recognized and awarded namely on the international film festival circuit:

* The Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for Offside (2006),
* The Un Certain Regard Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for Crimson Gold (2003),
* The Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for The Circle (2000),
* The Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival for The Mirror (1997)
* The Cannes Camera d’Or for The White Balloon (1995).

Below is the actual wording and authors of the petition:

Free Jafer Panahi
Jafar Panahi, the internationally acclaimed Iranian director of such award-winning films as The White Balloon, The Circle, Crimson Gold and Offside, was arrested at his home on March 1st in a raid by plain-clothed security forces. He has been held since then in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

A recent letter from Mr. Panahi’s wife expressed her deep concerns about her husband’s heart condition, and about his having been moved to a smaller cell. Mr. Panahi’s films have been banned from screening in Iran for the past ten years and he has effectively been kept from working for the past four years. Last October, his passport was confiscated and he was banned from leaving the country. Upon his arrest, Islamic Republic officials initially charged Mr. Panahi with ‘unspecified crimes.’ They have since reversed themselves, and the charges are now specifically related to his work as a filmmaker.

We (the undersigned) stand in solidarity with a fellow filmmaker, condemn this detention, and strongly urge the Iranian government to release Mr. Panahi immediately.

Iran’s contributions to international cinema have been rightfully heralded, and encouraged those of us outside the country to respect and cherish its people and their stories. Like artists everywhere, Iran’s filmmakers should be celebrated, not censored, repressed, and imprisoned.


Paul Thomas Anderson
Joel & Ethan Coen
Francis Ford Coppola
Jonathan Demme
Robert De Niro
Curtis Hanson
Jim Jarmusch
Ang Lee
Richard Linklater
Terrence Malick
Michael Moore
Robert Redford
Martin Scorsese
James Schamus
Paul Schrader
Steven Soderbergh
Steven Spielberg
Oliver Stone
Frederick Wiseman

Petition Organizing Committee: Jamsheed Akrami, Godfrey Cheshire, Jem Cohen, Kent Jones, Anthony Kaufman

Imagine being arrested in this country for making a movie. Is freedom of speech something we take for granted in the United States?