The well-known Iranian director Jafar Panahi has been in prison for seven months for alleged "anti-government propaganda". In protest against the imprisonment, the filmmaker recently went on a hunger strike. Now the Berlinale winner is released on bail. Several of his colleagues remain behind bars.
According to a newspaper report, award-winning Iranian film director Jafar Panahi has been released on bail after around seven months in prison. The Iranian newspaper "Shargh" reported on Twitter. On Wednesday evening, filmmakers, citing Panahi's family, announced that the 62-year-old had gone on a hunger strike. Since July 2022, Panahi has been held in the notorious Ewin prison in the Iranian capital, Tehran. The management duo of the Berlinale, Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian, said according to a statement: "We were very concerned about Jafar Panahi's health and are now very happy that he was finally released."
Panahi, who also takes a critical look at the politics of the Islamic Republic in his films, is one of the country's most internationally renowned directors. For his latest film "No Bears" he received a special prize from the jury at the Venice Film Festival in his absence. He has received many other awards over the course of his career, such as the main prize at the Berlinale in 2015 for "Taxi Tehran".
According to the Iranian judiciary, the director was in prison for "anti-government propaganda" and the prison sentence should therefore total six years. Several well-known filmmakers and directors are imprisoned in Iran. Among them is the Berlinale winner Mohammed Rassulof. Actresses who had shown solidarity with the wave of protests led by women were also arrested during the most recent demonstrations. Rassulof and Panahi were critical of the collapse of a shopping arcade under construction last summer.
The latest wave of protests in Iran was triggered by the death of the Iranian Kurd Jina Mahsa Amini in police custody in mid-September. She had been arrested by the so-called vice police for violating Islamic dress codes. Street protests have abated in recent weeks. Many women now express their displeasure through civil disobedience, for example by ignoring the compulsory headscarf.