May 24, 2010

Iranian film director Jafar Panahi seeks bail

And his plight is catapulted to the forefront when Juliette Binoche holds a placard that says FREE JAFAR PANAHI, as she receives her Best Actress award.

FAMED Iranian film director Jafar Panahi, held in Tehran since March 1 and on hunger strike for six days, is to hear on Saturday whether he will be granted bail, his wife and his lawyer said.

The two women, who were both able to visit Panahi in the Iranian capital’s Evin prison late last week, said they were hopeful that the Tehran revolutionary court would order the director released until his trial date.

Panahi, who won an award at the 1995 Cannes festival for The White Balloon and scooped the Venice film festival’s top gong in 2000 for The Circle, has been a vocal backer of Iran’s opposition movement.

He was detained, according to Iran’s culture minister, for making an “anti-regime” film about the unrest that rocked the country last year after the disputed presidential election that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.

Panahi had been invited to travel to Cannes this week to join the jury that decides the winner of the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, but was prevented from going by his continued detention.

His mentor, Abbas Kiarostami — whose movie Certified Copy is a candidate for this year’s Palme d’Or — on Tuesday denounced the Iranian authorities’ crackdown on artists and called for Panahi’s release.

l An explosive thriller about militants fighting in France for Algerian independence screened at the Cannes film festival last week Friday, in a bitter attack on France’s colonial history.

The far-right National Front party accuse French-Algerian film-maker Rachid Bouchareb of distorting history in Outside Of The Law. The film tells the story of Algerian brothers, driven from their home as children by French colonialists, who grow up to mount an armed resistance movement in France.

Opening with a massacre of Algerian civilians by French soldiers in the town of Setif in 1945 – a controversial historical event some critics say has been misrepresented – the film is one of very few cinematic treatments of the conflict. — Sapa-AFP