Iranian Actress Faces Flogging Over Film

An Iranian actress has been sentenced to 90 lashes and a year in prison for appearing in an Australian film showing her not wearing a headscarf. Marziah Vafamehr, star of 2009 film My Tehran For Sale, was imprisoned in July. Her sentence has been revealed by Iranian opposition website Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the Australian government was “deeply concerned” about Vafamehr’s arrest. Cyan Films, the South Australia-based production company which made the award-winning film, said it was “deeply shocked and appalled” by her sentence. Ironically, My Tehran For Sale follows an actress who finds herself banned from working on stage by the Iranian authorities. The film shows Iranian young people going to underground raves, smoking hashish and having sex before marriage – behaving, in short, like most young people around the world do. The producers have said the film was never intended for distribution within Iran, and its dissemination on the black market in Tehran has been totally outside their control. “We continue to offer our support to Marzieh and her family by respecting their wishes to let the case and the appeal follow the proper legal channels,” producers Kate Croser and Julie Ryan said in a statement. There is confusion as to what Vafamehr has been arrested for: she appears to have been arrested on grounds that My Tehran For Sale was shot in the Iranian capital without proper shooting permits. Both Cyan Films and Vafamehr’s husband, Iranian filmmaker Nasser Taghvai, deny this. Vafahmehr’s sentence comes the day after Islamist protestors in Tunisia tried to set fire to a TV station that screened Oscar-nominated film Persepolis: That film follows a young girl as she comes of age against the backdrop of the Iranian revolution. According to, Vafamehr’s lawyer has appealed the sentence. Here is the trailer:

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