Director Paul Haggis, actor Sean Penn and super producer Harvey Weinstein have teamed with British-Iranian actress and Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) spokesperson Nazanin Boniadi to raise awareness and speak out against the harsh sentences recently imposed on Iranian filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof.
In July 2009, Panahi was arrested after joining a public mourning for protesters killed during demonstrations in the wake of the disputed election results in the country. He was released, but barred from leaving the country and was re-arrested earlier this year. He was sentenced recently for his alleged crimes and received a harsh verdict: six years in prison (which Rasoulof also received) and an additional 20-year ban from making any films, writing any scripts, traveling abroad and conducting interviews. Harsh, egregious and outrageous, it’s no wonder that the filmmaker’s colleagues around the world are beginning to mobilize to call for the sentence to be lifted.
This latest announcement follows statements by Martin Scorsese and Thierry Fremaux, director of the Cannes film festival, calling for justice for the jailed filmmakers. We certainly hope the growing number of high profile voices continues to mount pressure on the Iranian government to overturn the ridiculous sentences on these filmmakers. [Deadline]