The Berlinale red carpet on Saturday became a protest platform against Iran’s repressive regime when a group of Iranian filmmakers and talents, joined by jury president Kristen Stewart, chanted “Women, Life, Freedom!” and demanded the release of imprisoned journalists and an Iranian rapper.
Actress Golshifteh Farahani, who is also on the jury; “Holy Spider” actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi; and “The Siren” director Sepideh Farsi were among dozens of Iranian film professionals participating in the protests hosted by Berlinale co-directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian.
Protesters with signs demanded freedom for female Iranian journalists Niloofar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi who are behind bars, accused of “conspiring against national security” for being the first to report on Mahsa Amini’s death, and for the release of dissident Iranian hip hop artist Toomaj Salehi who has been accused of spreading propaganda and could face the death penalty.
The Berlin red carpet protest was preceded by a panel on “The Role of Cinema and the Arts in the Iranian Revolution” with panelists including Ebrahimi and Farsi who both spoke about their hope that the current wave of protests sparked by the death of Amini, while in police custody for not wearing a head veil properly, could topple the current Iranian regime.
Speaking about her film “The Siren” to Variety Farsi said: “The end of the film has hope, and I really, really would like them [Iranians] to feel it as a glow of sun for the near future of Iran, because I’m really hoping that we will reach that victory soon.”
Farahani in her speech on opening night said: “This regime lies … executes. The prisons of Iran are full of innocent people. We need you to stand on the right side of history with the Iranian people. This regime will fall.”
“The wall of dictatorship is a thick wall…the revolution in South Africa took 800 days, ours has been just five months,” she added. “This wall is one of oppression, attacking human rights. We need all of you. We need Germany, France, Europe. We need you to stand on the right side and to acknowledge it. Call it a revolution.”