Jafar Panahi’s son on his father’s arrest and Iran protests – The Hollywood Reporter

Iran continues to be affected by nationwide protests against the Islamic regime, protests that sparked death, on September 13, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died while under arrest detained by Iran’s ethics police after being arrested by Iran’s ethics police for allegedly violating Iran’s strict code of ethics requiring women to wear headscarves.

The protests are the largest and longest wave of civil unrest to contain Iran since 2009 and are seen by many as a real threat to the future of Iran’s Islamic rulers.

While Amini’s death is the spark that sparked the current wave of protests, unrest has been simmering all summer in Iran and the police response has been brutal. In July, authorities jailed two Iranian directors, Mohamad Rasoulof and Mostafa al-Ahmad, for voicing opposition on social media to the government’s violent crackdown. In response, Jafar Panahi, the award-winning director of taxi, 3 sides and Circle, and arguably the most prominent dissident artist in the country, was detained when he went to the Tehran prosecutor’s office to inquire about Rasoulof and Al-Ahmad. He was then sent to prison, with authorities announcing he served a six-year prison sentence in connection with a sentence handed down a decade ago that was never carried out.

Since Panahi’s arrest, dissidents in Iran have tried to lobby the international entertainment community to support the protesters and pressure the regime to release Panahi and others. . At this year’s Venice Film Festival, organizers and filmmakers staged a red carpet rally ahead of the world premiere of Panahi’s new film. No bears, calling for his release. Panahi, from his cell, also sent a letter to the film festival, thanking the international community for “making noise” in support of Iranian filmmakers but warning the government crackdown “remains”. not over”.

Earlier this month, more than 1,000 working professionals from the world of French cinema, signed an open letter to “support the protesters loud and clear.” During a public protest, about 50 actresses, including stars Juliette Binoche, Marion Cotillard and Isabelle Huppert, posted videos of them cutting their hair as part of #HairForFreedom, a widely viewed Instagram video campaign widely to support the protesters.

As the protests, and the government’s response to them, become increasingly violent and violent, the fate of Panahi and others captured by the Iranian regime remains uncertain.

In an exclusive interview, conducted via email, The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Panah Panahi, son of Jafar Panahi and asked him about his father’s condition, what the status of the protests and support from the international film community means to those anti-regime.

Do you have contact with your father? How is he in prison?

Yes, we are contacting him. Jafar is at the public unit and calls every day, and we see him in person once a week. … He had many friends in prison; all are honest and forthright Iranians, including doctors, engineers, writers, directors and poets, as well as admissions to top universities and environmental activists. school. In general, anyone interested in Iran should go to jail. … The good thing about prison for Jafar is that he has now been forced to exercise and read more to pass the time.

What did the authorities say about why they jailed him?

It may seem strange to you, but we ourselves don’t know why Jafar ended up in jail. His sentence said “collusion against the regime”. It means work against the mode. This is a common sentence used for all political, environmental and other prisoners.

What does the government hope to gain from imprisoning him?

You say government, but we say Islamic Republic regime. That’s because no matter which government takes over, ultimately, the policies of [supreme religious leader] Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei and his regime are important things. I see no problem with the government, although Ebrahim Raeisi’s government is one of the most underdeveloped and corrupt governments we have ever seen. Just think about the fact that our president only has a sixth grade education. What can you expect from him?

They want to keep other artists quiet by imprisoning Jafar. All in all, the regime tries to imprison, from all walks of life, an ideological leader who cares about Iran and the protests to set an example for others to shut up. It’s simple, like all other authoritarian governments. They are completely unresponsive. Because responsiveness is not a constitutive part of this mode. They just refer to the judge’s statement and say this is a judgment and we have to respect it. They are uneducated people, who have come to power, have stuck to their positions and refuse to let go. Their nature is to avoid.

What was his reaction to being jailed — did it change/strengthen his stance toward the Iranian regime?

Jafar’s position is not personal to change. Jafar is like a sociologist who knows his people and their pain, sees the injustice they have to go through and he turns those things into his concern, a concern that he reflects in his works. What Jafar said was nothing more than a call for basic human rights and a rejection of tyranny imposed on society due to ignorance.

Not only has his status not changed, he has grown stronger and more determined, and his voice has spread more widely. Except for the people inside [Iranian] entertainment industry, who did not support him out of fear of reprisals from the regime.

What are you doing to secure his release?

We were able to retain an attorney and we have filed two appeals to date. But the verdict remained unchanged; There is no other legal path available to us.

How do you assess your chances of securing his release?

It cannot be predicted at all; It is inconclusive to judge such a thing in a government where logic plays no role.

What role are Iranian filmmakers playing in the current anti-government protests? Is the reaction different this time – it seems that even officially approved directors like Asghar Faradi are speaking out.

This time is definitely different, there are more artists to support everyone. Restrictive government policies put artists in a difficult position. There is no hope of reform, and the only thing the government does is put pressure on the people. But if these protests are also extinguished, the next time, the opposition will come back stronger. Because the more people are pressured, the angrier they get, until they have nothing left to lose.

A few days ago, Khamenei said that the protests of artists and athletes have no value. He just said this one sentence and moved on. The fact that Khamenei heard the protesters’ voices and was forced to talk about it meant that the filmmakers and athletes’ protest was much more effective than it was before.

We have seen the film industry in other countries, including France and the US, support the Iranian protests. What impact has this had, if any?

It is too early to discuss and analyze the recent protests. But the best thing out of it is that a collective intelligence has been created, and the people are not looking for a leader and it is the collective intelligence that is leading the protests. The government has always blamed the United States and Israel and their alleged agents in Iran for the protests. It can’t do that anymore because even its supporters no longer accept it. Everyone can see that this collective intelligence does not track a particular individual. The motto that the Iranian people are promoting is: “Women, Life, Freedom”. This is not related to any political line or partisanship. It is a claim of basic human rights.

The endorsement of world famous artists and figures has certainly had a significant impact in raising awareness, and the more awareness is raised, the louder the voices and the greater the solidarity of people. That’s what terrifies an authoritarian government.

We have seen anti-government protests in Iran before. How optimistic are you that the protests this time around will have a lasting impact on changing things in Iran?

These protests did not surface overnight. I look at the 1999, 2009, 2017 and 2019 protests, and I can see the evolutionary path of the protests; each time people are less afraid and the mottos and slogans become stronger. Not the slogans are aimed at the regime itself. We can clearly see this evolution.

The interview has been translated from Farsi and edited to be long and easy to understand.


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