Hollywood lends support to jailed Iranian filmmakers

Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:01pm EDT
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OCT. (Reuters) - Several leading Hollywood organizations representing writers, directors, actors and the group that awards the Oscars, issued a sharply-worded statement on Wednesday lending their support to jailed Iranian filmmakers.

The statement addressed the September 2011 arrests of producer Katayoun Shahabi, directors Naser Saffarian, Hadi Afarideh, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Shahnam Bazdar and documentarian Mohsen Shahrnazdar for work they were said to have performed for the BBC.

Safarian and Shahrnazdar have since been released, but the fate of the others is unknown, according to entertainment industry newspaper Daily Variety.

The groups also singled out the ongoing house arrest of acclaimed director Jafar Panahi, as well as the imprisonment of actress Marzieh Vafamehr, who also was sentenced to receive 90 lashes by Iranian authorities.

"We join our colleagues around the world in calling unequivocally for these filmmakers' safety, release, and return to filmmaking," said a statement from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which gives out the film industry's top awards, the Oscars.

Other joining in the statement were the Directors Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild, Producers Guild of America, Writers Guilds of America, West and East, American Cinema Editors and American Society of Cinematographers.

"We hope the Iranian government will release these filmmakers and recognize that their creative works can only strengthen and enrich Iranian society," the Directors Guild said.

The full statement can be found at the motion picture academy's website here

(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Zorianna Kit)