American filmmakers including Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola spoke out publicly in support of the Iranian director when he was first arrested. Now Jafar Panahi has been sentenced to a 6-year prison sentence by an Iranian court and banned from making films for two decades. Panahi won Camera d’Or honors at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival for his first film, The White Balloon, and he won the Golden Lion in 2000 for The Circle. Another Iranian filmmaker, Muhammad Rasoulof, recently was also dealt a 6-year jail sentence by a regime determined to silence dissident artists. This underscores why the internationality of cinema is so important.
According to UK’s Guardian newspaper, Panahi and Rasoulof were originally arrested last year for publicly mourning protesters killed following the presidential election. He was arrested again in February and sent to prison in Tehran. The formal charge: collusion and propaganda, his attorney Farideh Gheyrat told an Iranian news agency.
“He is therefore sentenced to six years in prison and also he is banned for 20 years for making any films, writing any scripts, traveling aboard and also giving any interviews to the media including foreign and domestic news organizations,” the attorney told The Guardian. The conviction will be appealed.