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    Sacharow-Preis an Filmemacher Jafar Panahi

    By Dorothea Holloway | November 5, 2012

    Die Preisträger des Sacharow-Preises für die Freiheit des Geistes des EU Parlaments kommen in diesem Jahr aus dem Iran. Es sind die Anwältin Nasrin Sotudeh und der Filmemacher Jafar Panahi.

    In KINO – German Film No: 100 (2011) beginnt der Bericht über die Berlinale 61 so:

    An opening with political gravitas. Before he introduced the International Jury, Dieter Kosslick brought an empty chair on to the stage with a sign bearing the name of Jafar Panahi. The Iranian filmmaker, whose Offside was shown at the Berlinale in 2006 when it was awarded a Silver Bear, had been invited as a member of Jury, but was not allowed to leave his country. The chair remained empty until the end of the festival. The work of the »Filmmaker of the World« was present in the festival’s programme with his films being shown in the Berlinale’s various sections each day. Isabella Rossellini, president of the jury, read out loud an open letter from Jafar Panahi where the artist wrote, among other things: »The world of a filmmaker is marked by the interplay between reality and dreams. The filmmaker uses reality as his inspiration, paints it with the colour of his imagination, and creates a film that is a projection of his hopes and dreams.«

    And in KINO – German Film No. 101 about Cannes 64 (2011):

    Directors who couldn’t come to Cannes

    In December 2010, Jafar Panahi was sentenced to six years in prison and banned from making films for 20 years. He can move freely until judgement is passed by the court of appeal. His colleague Mojtaba Mirtahmasb shot a video diary with the title This Is Not A Film. He observes Panahi in his flat, shows his everyday life: a discussion with art students, a telephone call with his woman lawyer. Panahi talks about a film he was planning before he was sentenced. We see excerpts from Panahi’s films and the director speaks about his work with actors. In 2006, Ron Holloway wrote in KINO 86 about Panahi’s comedy Offside which won a Silver Bear at the Berlinale.

    Meanwhile, Mohammad Rasoulof’s wife accepted the Prize for Best Direction in the sidebar Un Certain Regard for Good Bye (Be omid e didar) which was the opening film at this year’s Filmfest Hamburg. Like Panahi, Rasoulof has been sentenced to a prison sentence and a 20 year ban on making films, giving interviews and travelling abroad. Good Bye is quiet, low key, and thus all the more convincing. A woman lawyer, Leyla Zareh, goes from one authority to another, including unofficial ones, to apply for an exit visa. Her husband, a journalist, has gone into hiding. The police had already been in the flat looking for incriminating documents. The offices are grey, and Leyla’s face is also ashen. As in Asghar Farhadi’s Berlinale winner Nader and Simin. A Separation, this film is about staying or leaving. It says something about brotherliness among people that these films from Iran were both shown in Cannes. Asghar Farhadi is living now with his family in Berlin by inivitation of the DAAD. He is working on a new movie that plays in Europe. All the best for you!

    Jafar Panahi’s and Mohammed Rasoulef’s sentences have been recently confirmed by an Iranian court.

    Ron wrote in his Berlinale 2006 report in KINO – German Film No. 86 about Jafar Panahi’s comedy Offside:

    Awarded the other half of the runnerup Grand Jury Prize, Jafar Panahi’s comedy Offside (Iran) prompted howls of laughter from a delighted audience. The scene is a soccer game at the overcrowded Azadi Stadium in Tehran, where Iran is battling Bahrain in a key match to qualify for the World Cup this summer in Germany. Here, six plucky Iranian girls, all but one rabid soccer fans, are using their wits and helpful disguises to enter the stadium as boys with caps, garb, pennants, and painted faces. One even dons a soldier’s uniform, an indiscretion that could easily lead to family disgrace and a jail sentence. The girls never get to see the game – instead, they are caught and placed »offside« in a pen under the guard of a friendly soldier who wants to watch the game as badly as they do. The rest is an ongoing dialogue between the girls and the guards about why women are forbidden to enter a soccer stadium in the first place. To Jafar Panahi’s credit, each of the non actors is a windfall to this amusing tale on nonsequiturs as it unfolds. For, as Jafar Panahi has so aptly demonstrated in past films, particularly in The White Balloon (1995), illogical answers to logical questions can bring tears of laughter.

    Some weeks later the Berlinale staff can congratulate: »1:0 for Iranian Women. Women once again have access to Iranian football sta-diums. On this occasion, the Berlin Internation-al Film Festival would like to congratulate the Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who tackles the theme of unequal treatment of women in his film Offside, awarded the Silver Bear – Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Berlinale.« (Press Office, 28 April 2006)

    Laut berliner Tagesspiegel vom 28. Oktober 2012 reisen EU-Parlamentarier nicht nach Teheran, da sie die Preisträger dort nicht treffen dürfen.

    I was at the 7th Isfahan International Festival of Films for Children and Young Adults 6 – 12 October 1991 im Iran. I wrote about in KINO – German Film No: 44 (1991) more than 2 pages. Here are some sentences from my Isfahan-Report:

    The trip to Iran was rewarding in more ways than one. For not only was there the competition entries at the festival to view each afternoon, and this in an historical city of breathtaking architectural beauty, but one also had the opportunity to spend hours talking with Iranian filmmakers and journalists, as well as viewing on cassette or at the retrospective a collection of some 60 films produced in Iran since 1985 – from the fascinating and strikingly photographed Runner (1985) by Amir Naderi to the latest productions of 1991. Festival director Ali R. Shoja Noori and his friendly team announced a policy of “standing by for 24 hours” in the video room of the Abbasi Hotel to be at the service of foreign guests.

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