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Banned Iranian Film Premiers At Berlin Festival

A new movie by dissident Iranian director Jafar Panahi has premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival.

The annual festival, running February 5-15, featured the first screening of Panahi's film Taxi on February 6.

The film, a portrait of the Iranian capital, Tehran, contends for the festival's coveted Golden Bear for best feature film.

In his director's statement accompanying the movie, Panahi said "I can't do anything else but make films. Cinema is my expression and the meaning of my life."

In 2010, Panahi received a six-year prison sentence and a 20-year ban on directing movies, writing screenplays, or giving any interviews, and leaving the country.

He is not behind bars but could be imprisoned at any time at the discretion of the authorities.

Panahi has won numerous awards for his films. He was also awarded the European Parliament's Sakharov prize for Freedom of Thought in 2012.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa