Iranian authorities crack down on Kiarostami pic

While the international film community cheered the May 25 release from jail of helmer Jafar Panahi, who had been held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison since March 1, they had reason to jeer as Iranian authorities decided to ban Cannes competition pic “Certified Copy” — made by Panahi’s mentor and fellow director Abbas Kiarostami — from general release.

Panahi, according to his wife Tahereh Saeedi, was freed on $200,000 bail and immediately taken to a doctor for a medical examination after having embarked on a hunger strike while in prison.

Since then he has seemingly gone to ground, with no statements being issued or interviews being given from his camp.

He still faces serious charges that have yet to be spelled out. The Tehran prosecutor’s office said the director’s case file had been sent to the

Revolutionary Court, which deals with security offenses.

Soon after he was rounded up from his home on March 1 along with 16 other people including his wife and daughter — most of whom were subsequently released — Culture Minister Mohammad Hosseini accused Panahi of making an “anti-regime” film about the riots that rocked Iran after the June 12, 2009, re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Panahi’s release came two days after the end of the 63rd Cannes film festival, where he was due to serve on the jury and where repeated calls from the international film community were made for him to be freed.

Though no one in Iran is saying so, few doubt that there’s a link between the very public protests against the Iranian authorities at Cannes and the decision to ban “Certified Copy,” for which Binoche scooped the best actress award.

According the Iranian media, the official reason for the ban is the attire of Binoche in the film.

“If Juliette Binoche were better clad it could have been screened but due to her attire there will not be a general screening of the film,” Deputy Culture Minister Javad Shamaqdari was quoted as saying by local newspapers.

He said, however, that the film could be shown “in some private circles and universities.”

Shamaqdari, who attended the film festival, went on, however, to describe “Certified Copy” as “not a bad film,” though he doubted it would in any case appeal to Iranian audiences.

And as far as the Iranian authorities are concerned, local films are making a splash internationally.

English-language Press-TV trumpeted the fact that two shorts and two animated films are competing in Russia’s Golden Knight Intl. Film Festival.

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