Iranian director invited to attend fest

ROME — Dissident Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s latest work, a short film shot in Teheran, titled “The Accordion,” will open the Venice Days section of the Venice Film Festival, which Panahi has been invited to attend.

Venice Days topper Giorgio Gosetti told Daily Variety that “it is still premature” to say if Panahi, whom Iranian authorities released in May, after nearly three months in custody, would be given permission to travel to Italy.

Panahi, who won a Venice Golden Lion with “The Circle” in 2000, has already been prevented from attending the Berlin, Cannes and Taormina fests earlier this year. However, he did not have films showing at these events.

He was arrested in early March on unclear charges after supporting Iran’s opposition following the disputed June 2009 presidential election in which Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner.

Produced by the Geneva and Milan-based ART for The World foundation, and shot prior to Panahi’s incarceration, the eight-minute “The Accordion” is the story of two young Teheran street musicians whose accordion gets taken away from them. It will world preem in Venice Days as a special event on Sept. 1.

“I am a director who is attentive to societal changes and what takes place around me,” Panahi said in a statement about the film.

“Clearly ‘The Accordion’ reflects my emotion toward events and expresses my way of observing reality.”

The Panahi short is part of an omnibus feature project titled “Then and Now: Beyond Borders and Differences,” on tolerance and intercultural dialogue, backed by the United Nations and produced by ART for the World.

The Venice Film Festival will run Sept. 1-11.

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