Thousands of protestors have taken to the streets of Iran to demand justice for Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was killed by Iran’s “morality police” after being arrested for failing to cover her hair. Her death, which her father claims was a the result of a beating in police custody, has prompted outrage across the country, with many Iranian women cutting their hair and burning their hijabs in protest. To date 17 people have died in the protests, which continue to rage in more than a dozen cities across the nation.
Now, one of Iran’s top filmmakers is using his platform to draw attention to the issue. Bahman Ghobadi, the acclaimed director of Iranian New Wave films such as “Turtles Can Fly” and “A Time for Drunken Horses” has published an open letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences encouraging the institution to promote the protests and stand with the people of Iran.
“As one of the members of your prestigious Academy, it would be great if you passed this message along to all of the other Academy members,” Ghobadi wrote. “You have certainly heard about what has been happening in Iran. The Iranian regime recently killed a young woman named Mahsa Amini for not wearing her headscarf “properly.” The Iranian people have gone to the streets to protest against the regime. We, my people and I, need your support to spread this news and to stand by the Iranian people and their rightful protests. We need your support more than ever. Please help us spread the word.”
The role that the Academy should play in promoting justice around the globe has been a topic of frequent debate among the film community.
When Russia invaded Ukraine in the lead up to the 2022 Academy Awards, many pushed for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to speak at the ceremony. Sean Penn even threatened to smelt his Oscars if Zelensky wasn’t invited. While no such appearance took place, the show did dedicate a moment of silence to the war effort in Ukraine and the Academy expressed its support for Ukrainian independence.
IndieWire has reached out to the Academy for comment.