Iranian filmmaker Reza Dormishian was set to accompany “A Minor,” a new film that he produced, to the International Film Festival of India this week, but he was stopped at the airport and barred from leaving his home country by Iranian authorities. His passport was confiscated was referred to courts for criminal prosecution. The film, which was directed by Dariush Mehrjui, went on to play at the festival on Thursday and Friday.
In a statement sent to IndieWire, representatives for Dormishian attributed his detainment to a recent series of Instagram posts that he made criticizing Iran’s government. He was particularly critical of the regime’s crackdown on filmmakers, expressing solidarity with Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, both of whom have been imprisoned for speaking out against injustices in Iran. Rasoulof was arrested in early 2022, and Panahi was arrested and sentenced to a six year prison sentence after visiting his fellow filmmaker and asking questions about the circumstances that led his arrest.
As Iran continues to crack down on dissenting artistic voices, its filmmakers have not remained silent. Panahi has continued to make his voice heard through statements released at various film festivals despite being imprisoned in Iran.
“We are filmmakers. We are part of Iranian cinema. For us, to live is to create,” he said in a statement that was read at the New York Film Festival ahead of a screening of his film “No Bears.” We create works that are not commissioned. Therefore, those in power see us as criminals. Independent cinema reflects its own times. It draws inspiration from society. And cannot be indifferent to it. The history of Iranian cinema witnesses the constant and active presence of independent directors who have struggled to push back censorship and to ensure the survival of this art. While on this path, some were banned from making films, others were forced into exile or reduced to isolation. And yet, the hope of creating again is a reason for existence. No matter where, when, or under what circumstances, an independent filmmaker is either creating or thinking about creation. We are filmmakers, independent ones.”