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Berlin replies to Iran’s complaint about Jafar Panahi award

'Closed Curtain' scooped fest's script nod

ROME

The Berlin Film Festival Wednesday replied to official protests from Iran regarding the screenplay prize given to dissident helmer Jafar Panahi for “Closed Curtain,” shot while he was under house arrest and banned from filmmaking.

“We would very much regret if the screening will have any legal consequences for the filmmakers,” the fest said in a statement.

“Closed Curtain,” a reflection on being an active artist under physical and creative constraints in Iran, scooped Berlin’s script nod, which was accepted by co-director Kamboziya Partovi at the fest’s closing ceremony on Saturday.

Partovi still lives in Iran and the fest’s comments refer to concerns that he and other filmmakers might suffer a fate similar to Panahi’s.

Iranian news agency ISNA announced Monday that Javad Shamaqdari, head of the country’s national film body, had sent the complaint to Berlin.

“Its officials should amend their behavior because in cultural and cinematic exchange this is not correct,” Shamaqdari, a filmmaker himself, told ISNA. “Everyone knows that a license is needed to make films in our country and send them abroad, but there are a small number who make films and send them out without a license. This is an offense … but so far the Islamic Republic has been patient with such behavior.”

On the Berlinale’s opening night, artistic topper Dieter Kosslick, who has long campaigned for Panahi to be free, said he had asked the Iranian government to allow Pahani to attend the “Closed Curtain” world preem.

In 2010 Iran sentenced Panahi to six years in prison and banned him from making movies for 20 years after finding him guilty of propaganda against the state. At the time he was said to be making a doc about the disputed 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Panahi previously made “This Is Not a Film,” depicting a day in his life at home as he waited to hear the verdict from the appeal. Pic world preemed at Cannes in 2011 as a special screening, after being smuggled out of the country.

Iranian police subsequently stopped co-helmer Mojtaba Mirtahmasb at Tehran Airport on his way to the Toronto Film Festival for a screening of “This Is Not a Film” and pulled his passport.

More than a dozen Iranian directors and actors have been arrested and accused of propaganda against the regime. Many have been jailed or prevented from leaving the country.

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