Banned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi won the Best Script Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival on Saturday for his competition entry Closed Curtain. Since then, Iran has complained to fest organizers over the award, Iran’s Student News Agency reported, according to Reuters. The head of the country’s national cinema body, Javad Shamaqdari, said Berlin officials “should amend their behavior” and noted, “Everyone knows that a license is needed to make films in our country and send them abroad, but there are a small number who make films and send them out without a license. This is an offense… but so far the Islamic Republic has been patient with such behavior.” In a statement to Deadline, the festival said: “We would very much regret if the the screening of Pardé (Closed Curtain) would have any legal consequences for the filmmakers.”
Panahi is two years into a 20-year filmmaking ban in his native Iran and was hit with a six-year jail sentence (which led to house arrest) in 2010 on charges of “propaganda against the state.” In 2011, his documentary This Is Not A Film was famously smuggled into the Cannes Film Festival on a flash drive hidden inside a cake. What appears to be a key difference between Closed Curtain and This Is Not A Film is that Panahi didn’t write a script for the latter and did not handle a full-size camera meaning he skirted the injunction against him, The New York Times has reported. But Closed Curtain was singled out in Berlin precisely for its screenplay about people on the run from the authorities and holed up in a seaside villa. The film was made with co-director, co-screenwriter and co-star Kambozia Partovi, who said in Berlin last week, “We don’t know what this will lead to. We are very glad that Jafar had the opportunity to come through with this project… Nothing has happened up to now, but we don’t know what the future holds in store for us.”
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