The new film by the Iranian director Jafar Panahi is being screened today in the competition section of the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale). As in 2011, when Panahi was a member of the jury at the 61st Berlinale, he has again been refused permission to leave Iran this year. In this connection, Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner Markus Löning issued the following statement today (12 February):
I very much regret that Jafar Panahi will be unable to attend the première of his film “Pardé” at this year’s Berlinale. As in 2011, the Iranian authorities will not allow him to leave his home country.
Jafar Panahi’s films have in recent years given many people an insight into Iranian society and have thus made a crucial contribution to intercultural dialogue.
I appeal to Iran to respect the fundamental human and civil rights to which it has committed itself, quash the prison sentence passed on Jafar Panahi and allow him to work and to travel abroad.
Jafar Panahi was arrested in March 2010 while working on a film critical of the controversial 2009 presidential elections in Iran. He was subsequently sentenced to six years in prison and banned from making films for 20 years for various crimes including “propaganda against the Iranian system”. A court of appeal in Tehran confirmed the verdict in October 2011.
Panahi has received many international awards. In 2011 he was invited to serve on the jury at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival. However, the Iranian authorities refused to allow him to leave the country.
Ahead of this year’s Berlinale, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and Federal Government Commissioner for Culture Bernd Neumann called for Panahi to be permitted to leave Iran.
On 26 October 2012, the European Parliament awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Jafar Panahi and the human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.