KARLOVY VARY, Czech Rep. — Iranian helmer Jafar Panahi, who is under house arrest and waiting to start a six-year prison sentence, made a surprise appearance via Skype at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival Wednesday, before the screening of his latest film “Closed Curtain.”
The director is banned from leaving Iran, as are the film’s co-director Kambuzia Partovi and star Maryam Moghadam, so is prevented from promoting the film abroad. It won best screenplay this year at the Berlinale, where he also won a Silver Bear in 2006 for “Offside.” He was on the jury at Karlovy Vary in 2001.
Last week, he was invited to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The director is officially banned from making films for 20 years, but shot “Closed Curtain” in secret at his home. His previous pic was 2011’s “This Is Not a Film,” which was also made in defiance of the ban.
The director’s daughter Solmaz Panahi, who appeared in his Venice Golden Lion prizewinning film “The Circle,” was at the Karlovy Vary screening to represent him, and unexpectedly announced that the director himself would speak to the audience, whereupon he appeared on screen via a Skype link.
“Karlovy Vary festival is one of the festivals I truly love, and when I was here I had the chance to meet with great film-makers who became part of my family,” he told the audience.
“Unfortunately I have lost that family, but my heart is with you.
“I hope one day that I will be able to make films again, and that I will be able to show them to you.
“It’s very painful for me not to be part of society, because I make films that are about and focus on society, so I now live in a world of melancholy.”