Iran nixes Panahi’s Berlin trip

Panahi was to take part in World Cinema Fund Day at festival

Iranian helmer Jafar Panahi has been denied permission by local authorities to travel to Berlin.

Panahi, whose “Offside” was awarded the fest’s jury grand prize in 2006, was scheduled to participate in a panel discussion on Iranian cinema during the fest’s World Cinema Fund Day today.

The Berlinale sent out a press release Tuesday announcing that Panahi would not be attending the fest, where he was an honorary guest.

“We are surprised and deeply regret that a director who has won so many international prizes has been denied the possibility to take part in our anniversary festival and to speak about his cinematic visions,” said fest director Dieter Kosslick.

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

Tensions have risen even further since the disputed presidential elections in June, when opponents of president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad accused him and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of fixing the election, with filmmakers finding themselves caught in the middle.