Sean Penn and other Movie Celebs Condemn Prison Sentence for Acclaimed Iranian Film Director
After Iranian film director Jafar Panahi and collaborator Mohammad Rasoulof were sentenced to 6 years in prison and a two-decade long ban on "artistic activities" for so-called "propaganda against the state," human rights activists and movie celebs around the world are crying foul.
Paul Haggis, screenwriter of Oscar winner "Million Dollar Baby" and "Crash" and also the founder of Artists for Peace and Justice said, "If this happened to me, I would hope my colleagues would speak out in my name, as we are compelled to speak out in Jafar's. I urge the Iranian authorities to overturn Mr. Panahi's inhumane and unjust sentence. I ask that people across the world join Sean Penn, Harvey Weinstein and myself in signing the Amnesty International petition calling for the immediate reversal of the sentence against Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof."
Jafar Panahi is the director of such masterpieces of Iranian cinema as "Badkonake Sefid" (White Balloon), "Dayareh" (Circle), for which he won the Golden Lion at the 2000 Venice Film Festival, "Talayeh Sorkh" (Crimson Gold), and "Offside." Although invited to be a judge at the May 2010 Cannes International Film Festival, he was not able to attend as he was in detention in Evin Prison in Tehran. His absence was marked by an empty chair placed prominently on the stage for the duration of the festival.
Panahi has also been banned from carrying out his artistic work as a director, screenwriter, and film producer, from traveling abroad, and even from speaking to the media for an unimaginable period of twenty years. Panahi was convicted by a Revolutionary Court in Tehran for having exercised his right to peaceful freedom of expression through his filmmaking and political activism. He was charged with making a film deemed to be against the government, and for his alleged involvement in inciting protests following last year's presidential election.
The right to freedom of expression is guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the Iranian government is party to and is obliged to uphold.