DAILY NEWS: Mr. Panahi Reacts to Being Held in Airport; Coens and Barenholtz; Cannes' Fortnight; and Argentine Films
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
>> "The Circle" Director Lashes Out Against U.S. Authorities After Being Detained in NY Airport
(indieWIRE/04.27.01) -- On April 15, en route to film festivals in South
America from Hong Kong, Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi ("The White Balloon," "The Circle") was detained at New York City's JFK Airport for failure to present a transit visa. This week, the award-winning director sent a letter
addressed to the National Board of Review alleging mistreatment by airport
authorities and detailing a nightmarish detention.
Upon arrival, Panahi writes, "the American police took me to an office and
they asked for fingerprinting and photography because of my nationality."
After refusing, Panahi relates a painful tale of police aggression and
obstinacy. They threatened to put him in jail, according to the letter,
refused him an interpreter, and "chained me like the medieval prisoners."
According to Panahi, he was then brought to another part of the airport with
other detainees. He writes, "They chained my feet and locked my chain to the
others, all locked to a very dirty bench. For 10 hours, no questions and
answers, I was forced to sit on that bench, pressed to the others." The
ordeal lasted over night and Panahi was sent back to Hong Kong the following
"As the winner of Freedom of Expression Award for my film, 'The Circle,'"
Panahi writes to the National Board, "I would like to take your kind
attention to what happened to me in your country, an event which takes place
everyday in U.S." Continuing, he adds, "I wish your Board and the U.S. media
would dare to condemn the savage acts of American police/Immigration
officers...As a filmmaker obsessed with social issues, my films deal with
social problems and limits, and naturally I cannot be indifferent to racist,
violent, insulting and inhuman acts in any place in the world."
Panahi was held because he lacked a transit visa according to an article in
The Los Angeles Times. INS spokeswoman Sharon Gavin told the newspaper that without such a visa the traveller is considered to be attempting to enter
illegally, requiring that the person be held, fingerprinted, photographed
and sent back. INS officer Temple Black told the LA Times that Iran is on a
list of countries whose citizens must present transit visas upon entry into
the United States.
This week, Mohammed Atebbai, associate producer of "The Circle" and senior
editor of Film International, forwarded Panahi's letter via e-mail to film
professionals worldwide, from heads of film festivals to journalists and
distributors. Atebbai gave indieWIRE permission to reprint the letter and it
is available on the indieWIRE.com website. [Anthony Kaufman]
READ THE COMPLETE LETTER @ indieWIRE.com:
>> Coens Back Together with Producer Barenholtz
(indieWIRE/04.27.01) -- The Coen Brothers have announced that they will
re-team with Ben Barenholtz to develop an untitled feature that will be shot
in 2003. The Coens worked with exhibitor, distributor and producer
Barenholtz on "Blood Simple," "Raising Arizona," "Millers Crossing," and "Barton Fink."
Joel and Ethan Coen are set to debut their latest film, "The Man Who Wasn't
There," next month in Cannes and they will soon start shooting "To the White
Sea" with Brad Pitt.
Barenholtz is known as the founder of the Elgin Cinema in New York. Under
the Libra films banner he released David Lynch's "Eraserhead" and John
Sayles' "Return of the Secaucus Seven." While Circle Films, which he
co-founded, released John Woo's "The Killer" among other films. Barenholtz was recently a co-executive producer of Darren Aronofsky's "Requiem for a Dream." [Eugene Hernandez]
>> Cannes for Beginners; Directors' Fortnight Unveils Line-up
(indieWIRE/04.27.01) -- Of the 21 features selected for the 33rd edition of
the Directors' Fortnight (Quinzaine des Realisateurs), more than half are by
first-time feature filmmakers. While Cannes veterans Sandrine Veysset ("Will
it Snow for Christmas?") and Amos Kollek ("Fast Food, Fast Women") will open and close the festival respectively, with "Martha...Martha," and "Queenie in Love," this year's selection is rife with neophytes.
From the U.S. come two actor-turned-directors premiering their feature
debuts, Arliss Howard's "Big Bad Love," starring and produced by Debra
Winger," which will be seeking distribution, and Ethan Hawke's highly
anticipated InDigEnt film, "Chelsea Walls" (Lions Gate). Other first-timers include Christine Jeff's "Rain" -- the director worked as an assistant
director on Alison Maclean's "Crush" -- and a pair of Cannes prize winning short filmmakers, Belgian director Lieven Debrauwer's "Pauline and
Paulette," who won a Jury Prize in 1997 for "Leonie," and Rodolphe Marconi's
"Ceci Est Mon Corps" who won the shorts Grand Jury Prize in 1999 with
"Stop." Other first-time directors come from as far and wide as Tunisia,
Romania, and Russia, with Asian countries also well represented.
Notable up-and-comers with films already under their belts include "Come
Undone" director Sebastien Lifshitz's "The Crossing," Solveig Anspach ("Haut les Coeurs!") and Cindy Babski's capital punishment documentary, "Made in the USA," and "Suture" team David Siegel and Scott McGehee's Sundance premiere, "The Deep End." [Anthony Kaufman]
>> Argentine Indies in New York
(indieWIRE/04.27.01) -- New Yorkers who missed Fabian Bielinsky's con artist
story "Nine Queens" when it played at New Directors/New Films in March, have a second chance to see Argentina's top grossing homegrown film.
"Passionate Stories, A Passion for Storytelling: Recent Argentine Cinema"
(April 27 - May 17) will open tonight (Friday) with "Nine Queens." The
showing will be followed by Jose Luis Marques's officially sanctioned Dogme
95 film "Fuckland," the story of a young man who travels to the Falkland
Islands in the hopes of gaining control of the nearby British territory by
impregnating as many women as possible. A total of 13 films will screen from
the burgeoning Argentine film scene.
Other notable new entries include Marcelo Pineyro's "Burnt Money," which was recently acquired by Strand Releasing; "A Crysanthemum Bursts In
Cincoesquinas" director Daniel Burman's award-winning "Waiting for the
Messiah"; and Lucho Bender's local critical and commercial hit "Merry
Christmas," which was Argentina's entry for Oscar consideration. For more
information, check out the Film Society's website at
http://www.filmlinc.com. [Anthony Kaufman]