Director Panahi defies Iran ban to make another film

Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:13am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

BERLIN (Reuters) - Iran's Jafar Panahi has defied a 20-year ban on filmmaking to secretly co-direct "Closed Curtain", a multi-layered portrayal of how restrictions on his work and movement have brought on depression and even thoughts of suicide.

The movie, in competition at the Berlin film festival, has its premiere on Tuesday, but Panahi was not expected on the red carpet despite festival organizers saying the German government had requested he be allowed to travel.

His co-director and compatriot Kamboziya Partovi did attend a press conference along with actress Maryam Moghadam, but would not be drawn on what the consequences of making the movie could be for Panahi or others involved.

"Nothing has happened up until now," he said, speaking through an interpreter. "We do not know what the future holds for us."

Moghadam acknowledged she was taking a risk by acting in a project involving Panahi, a darling of the Western film festival circuit and best known for his 2000 movie "The Circle" and "Offside" released six years later.

His socially engaged films about issues such as women's rights in Iran and support for the political opposition have made him a target of the Iranian authorities.

In 2010 he was banned from making films for 20 years and sentenced to six years in prison for "propaganda against the system", although he is now under house arrest.

Moghadam, who has dual Swedish and Iranian nationality, told Reuters she would try to continue travelling to Iran, where she had family. "I am not the only one (taking risks)," she said.   Continued...

Iranian director Jafar Panahi poses during a photocall to present his film 'Offside' running in competition at the 56th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 17, 2006.