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Berlinale chief joins Panahi protest

Iranian helmer was arrested on Monday

Berlinale topper Dieter Kosslick has added his voice to those critical of Iran’s arrest of helmer Jafar Panahi on Monday.

“We’re concerned and dismayed that a director who has won many international prizes has been arrested because of his work as an artist,” said Kosslick, who had also spoken out against Iran’s decision last month to deny Panahi permission to travel to Berlin for the fest.

Panahi’s pic “Offside,” about soccer-crazy girls who disguise themselves as boys in order to watch a soccer match, won both a Silver Bear and the hearts of the audiences in Berlin in 2006.

He was scheduled to take part in a panel discussion at the Berlinale two weeks ago on Iranian Cinema: “Present and Future. Expectations Inside and Outside of Iran.”

The executive board of the German Film Academy added its weight to the protest, calling it “outrageous that Jafar Panahi, who is known around the world as one of Iran’s most important and well-known independent filmmakres, was arrested.

“Our colleagues in Iran should know that filmmakers abroad aren’t going to simply look the other way when injustices happen,” said German thesp Jasmin Tabatabai, deputy topper of the German Film Academy’s board, who was born in Tehran.

Panahi was taken into custody in Tehran along with his wife and daughter. He had been briefly arrested in 2009 for taking part in a memorial to anti-government demonstrators.

Panahi has had frequent run-ins with the Iranian authorities over his hardhitting depictions of its society in films such as “Crimson Gold” and “The Circle.”

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