Jafar Panahi Letter Read By Isabella Rossellini At Berlinale

‘These might be the last words we hear from him (for a long time).’

Those were the sentiments uttered by Berlin Film Festival director Dieter Kosslick, after Isabella Rossellini took to the stage during the 2011 Berlinale opening night gala.

With her, the actress brought a letter penned by imprisoned Iranian auteur Jafar Panahi, written from his prison cell in Tehran. Rossellini, the president of this year’s Berlin jury, read from the letter, which can be read in its entirety here:

“The world of the filmmaker is marked by the interplay between reality and dreams’¦The reality is they have deprived me of thinking and writing for twenty years, but they cannot keep me from dreaming that in twenty years inquisition and intimidation will be replaced by freedom and free thinking…They have condemned me to twenty years of silence. Yet in my dreams, I scream for a time when we can tolerate each other, respect each other’s opinions, and live for each other.”

On stage during the event was an empty white chair adorned with the filmmaker’s name, which became the focus of the evening, particularly after the standing ovation given by the crowd in the honor of this wrongfully imprisoned filmmaker.   The support was deafening:

“An attack on a filmmaker’s freedom is an attack on the very basis of freedom itself,” said German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann, to THR.

While things continue to look down for Panahi and his fellow filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, these shows of support are definitely important.   Our thoughts go out to both Panahi and Rasoulof, and their families as well, and to any filmmaker in Iran currently fighting to keep art in that country alive.

Source: THR Image: Reuters

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