By Paula Bernstein | Indiewire July 10, 2014 at 12:09PM
Variance Films, a division of Amplify, will release Jafar Panahi's "Closed Curtain" digitally for free online for Iranians in Iran using VHX, the direct-to-consumer platform, beginning Monday, July 14th.
One of Iran's most celebrated filmmakers, Panahi has been under house arrest since 2011, and the Iranian government has banned him from making any films for 20 years. "Closed Curtain" marks Panahi's second time defying the ban placed upon him by the government. The first was his 2011 documentary "This is Not a Film."
"Here at Amplify, we believe art should be celebrated, not censored," said Amplify's EVP of theatrical distribution and marketing Dylan Marchetti. "In that spirit we're proud to ensure that the work he created will be seen in his home country."
In his review of the film at Berlin, Eric Kohn wrote, "In the struggle to tell a story, Panahi reveals the redemptive power of art."
"Closed Curtain" won the Silver Bear for Best Script at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year and recently opened at the Film Forum in New York City. It will expand throughout the U.S. and Canada throughout the rest of the summer.
Meanwhile, Variance Films has led the charge on a social media campaign to support Panahi. Using the hashtag #Celebratenotcensor, Variance Films is asking people to tweet using that hashtag and to "show your support as well by sharing a personal message of support for Jafar and for other artists around the world who are being denied the freedom of expression" on the film's web site.
In association with Vice and Drafthouse Films, VHX previously helped make Joshua Oppenheimer's controversial and award-winning documentary "The Act of Killing" available for free to the people of Indonesia.