You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

After ‘Taxi’ Wins Berlin Golden Bear, Jafar Panahi Asks For His Film To Be Shown In Iran

After winning the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear with his film “Taxi,” Iranian director Jafar Panahi has broken silence, asking for his country to stop censoring him.

“I’m really happy for me and for Iranian cinema,” but “no prize is worth as much as my compatriots being able to see my films,” the banned director said in a rare interview with Iranian media, carried Sunday by the country’s semi-official Ilna news agency.

“The people in power accuse us of making films for foreign festivals,” Panahi also told Ilna. “They hide behind political walls and don’t say that our films are never authorized for screening in Iranian cinemas,” he added.

In “Taxi” Panahi plays a Tehran cabbie driving a diverse mix of passengers as they confide their woes, including a court case involving a young woman jailed for trying to get into a men’s volleyball match.

It’s Panahi’s third film smuggled abroad since 2010, when he was arrested by Iranian authorities and banned from moviemaking for a documentary he tried to make on the unrest prompted by Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election.

Just as “Taxi” screened in Berlin, the head of Iran’s government film entity, Hojjatollah Ayyubi, warned Berlin topper Dieter Kosslick against political manipulation of the pic.

“I regret that you wish to drive everybody in a taxi of new misunderstandings about the Iranian people by screening a film made by a director who has been banned by law from making films – but nevertheless, he has done exactly that. I am delighted to announce that the director of ‘Taxi’ continues to drive in the fast lane of his life, freely enjoying all of its blessings,” said the head of Iran’s Cinema Organisation in an open letter carried by Iranian media.

Since 2014, when the relatively more progressive Iranian President Hassan Rouhani took office, the country’s filmmakers are feeling a somewhat less chilly climate. Though the ban on Panahi officially remains in place, a six-year jail sentence against him has not been enforced. And Panahi is no longer under house arrest, and de-facto making films, albeit amid a very difficult and risky situation. Also Panahi is not allowed to leave the country, and his films are not shown there.

Reactions in Iran to Panahi’s Golden Bear victory have been mostly muted, with the exception of the interview published by Ilna, which is considered on the liberal end of Iran’s media spectrum.

“The Iranian media are choosing to give this victory a low profile, with just a mention in passing in conservative outlets,” noted expert Italo Spinelli, who heads Italy’s Asiatica Film Mediale festival.

Spinelli did not rule out that “in the next few hours a press campaign could mount against Panahi,” but he also noted that the Berlin prize victory puts the dissident director “in a better spot.”

Pahani’s two other post-ban pics are “This Is Not a Film” and “Closed Curtain,” which competed in 2013 in Berlin, where it won the screenplay prize, which prompted official protests from the Iranian government that year.

Foreign films are also subject to censorship in Iran. The BBC Persian service reported that a quick look at Tehran film listings for February shows that cinemas are currently showing several Hollywood films, including “Boyhood,” “Gone Girl,” “Interstellar” and even “The Interview.” But all of them are likely to have been edited for content.

More Film

  • Let There Be Light Movie Marko

    Tough Competition in Spa Town Festival

    When the curtain rises June 28 on the 54th edition of the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival, there will be a conspicuous absence among the 12 titles selected for the main competition: Czech directors. It’s just the second time this decade that the host country has failed to field a single entry in competition, a [...]

  • Diana Rigg, Terence Stamp Join Edgar

    Diana Rigg, Terence Stamp Join Edgar Wright’s ‘Last Night in Soho’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Edgar Wright’s “Last Night in Soho” has rounded out its cast, with veteran actors Diana Rigg and Terence Stamp among the stars signing on for the latest movie from the “Baby Driver” director. Stamp can currently be seen in Netflix hit “Murder Mystery” with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston. Rigg’s recent roles include Olenna Tyrell [...]

  • Zhang Zhao LeEco film

    Zhang Zhao, Chief of Le Chuang (Formerly Le Vision Pictures), Resigns

    Zhang Zhao, the chairman and CEO of Le Chuang Entertainment, formerly known as Le Vision Pictures, has resigned for “personal reasons,” the firm said.    Zhang’s resignation was announced in a statement posted to the firm’s official social media account Monday, which thanked him for his service. “Le Chuang will carry on as before, using [...]

  • Bob Berney

    Bob Berney to Leave Amazon Studios' Head of Marketing and Distribution Position

    Bob Berney, Amazon Studios’ head of marketing and distribution, is stepping down, Variety has confirmed. Berney was hired by Amazon in 2015 and recently reached the end of his four-year contract. His last day will be Friday. During his time at amazon, the film veteran oversaw a number of successful films including “Manchester by the [...]

  • NEW YORK, NY – JUNE, 24:

    LGBTQ Stars Honored at Variety’s Power of Pride Celebration

    New York City felt the full power of pride on Monday, as Variety celebrated its inaugural issue devoted to the annual recognition of LGBTQ people worldwide. At an intimate gathering at lower east side Manhattan hotel The Orchid, rooftop bar Mr. Purple hosted Variety’s cover stars and luminaries for cocktails and the unveiling of the [...]

  • Joel Silver Exits Silver Pictures

    Joel Silver Exits Silver Pictures

    Top Hollywood producer Joel Silver has exited his production company Silver Pictures, Variety has confirmed. “Joel Silver recently indicated that he intends to leave Silver Pictures and go out on his own,” Hal Sadoff, a former ICM Partners agent who joined Silver Pictures several years ago as CEO, said in a statement. “We are working [...]

  • Billy Eichner Power of Pride Variety

    Billy Eichner on Taylor Swift's 'Calm Down' Backlash

    When Taylor Swift released her “You Need to Calm Down” music video, it seemed like every member of the LGBTQ in Hollywood was included — except for Billy Eichner. “I’m still not gay enough for Taylor Swift — or too gay — I don’t know what it is,” Eichner joked at Variety’s Power of Pride [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content