Jafar Panahi, one of Iran's most important directors and honorary guest of this year's Berlinale, has been denied permission to leave Iran, according to a press release from the Berlin International Film Festival earlier today. With his film 'The Circle,' Panahi won Venice's Golden Lion in 2000; and with "Offside," he won Berlin's own Silver Bear in 2006.
At this year's festival, Panahi was to participate in the panel discussion on "Iranian Cinema: Present and Future. Expectations inside and outside of Iran" during the World Cinema Fund Day.
"We are surprised and deeply regret that a director who has won so many international prizes has been denied the possibility to take part in our anniversary Festival and to speak about his cinematic visions," Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick said in a statement.
Last year, indieWIRE reported that Panahi had been arrested, along with his wife and daughter, at a ceremony in Tehran, where mourners gathered to commemorate Iran's slain election protesters.