Breaking: Jafar Panahi Sentenced to Six Years in Prison



Seven months after being released from Iran’s notorious Evin jail on $200,000 bail, the Iranian filmmaker and activist Jafar Panahi has been sentenced to six years in prison. He has additionally been prohibited from writing or directing movies for the next 20 years. Panahi was originally arrested in July 2009 for participating in a memorial near the grave of Neda Agha-Soltan for those killed in protests of the disputed presidential election. He has since been released, re-arrested, and re-released. Farideh Gheirat, Panahi’s lawyer, said she would appeal the decision; according to Gheirat, “He is therefore sentenced to six years in prison and also he is banned for 20 years from making any films, writing any scripts, travelling abroad and also giving any interviews to the media including foreign and domestic news organizations.”

Panahi is perhaps best known for his films The White Balloon and The Circle, which won the Camera d’Or at Cannes and the Golden Lion at Venice, respectively. He has been critically lauded for his representations of the plight of Iranian women in films like The Circle and Offside, which tells the story of female soccer fans who disguise their gender to watch a match.

Filmmakers including Ken Loach, the Dardenne brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson, Robert Redford, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and the Coen brothers, as well as critics including David Denby, Roger Ebert, and David Ansen, have all called for Panahi’s release at various times in the last nineteen months. You can sign the Free Jafar Panahi petition, which currently contains more than three thousand signatures, here.