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Filmmaker Calls For Release Of Jailed Panahi

Abbas Kiarostami

Abbas Kiarostami

One of Iran's most prominent filmmakers, Abbas Kiarostami, has called for the release of Jafar Panahi and Mahmoud Rasoulof, two directors recently detained by the Iranian authorities.

"New York Times's" The Lede blog has posted a translation of Kiarostami's letter. Kiarostami says in his open letter that Iran's Culture Ministry is directly responsible for the arrest of Panahi and others like him.

I don’t quite know to whom I am addressing this letter, but I do know why I’m writing it and I believe that under the circumstances it is both critical and inevitable because two Iranian filmmakers, both of whom are vital to the Iranian wave of independent cinema, have been incarcerated.

Jafar Panahi and Mahmoud Rasoulof are two filmmakers of the Iranian independent cinema, a cinema that for the past quarter of a century has served as an essential cultural element in expanding the name of this country across the globe. They belong to an expanded world culture, and are a part of international cinematic culture. I wish for their immediate release from prison knowing that the impossible is possible. My heartfelt wish is that artists no longer be imprisoned in this country because of their art and that the independent and young Iranian cinema no longer faces obstacles, lack of support, attention and prejudice.

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Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.