Monday, 15 November 2010

The trial of an artist. Jafar Panahi waiting for the sentence

Acclaimed Iranian director Jafar Panahi was jailed in Tehran this past March. In May, after a hunger strike and an international campaign, Mr Panahi was freed on a one hundred and eighty five thousand dollar bail. Mr Panahi was back in court on November 7, and his defense statement was released. Here are few excerpts.

"(…) I have learned how to make films inspired by those outstanding films that the prosecutor deemed obscene. Believe me I have just as much difficulty understanding  how they could be called obscene as I do comprehending how the activity for which I was arrested could be seen as a crime? My case is a perfect example of being punished before committing a crime. You are putting me on trial for making a film that at the time of our arrest was only thirty per cent shot.  You must have heard that the famous creed "There is no god, except Allah”, turns into blasphemy if you only say  the first part and omit the second part.  In the same vain, how can you establish that a crime has been committed by looking at 30% of rushes for a film that have not been edited yet (...) The assassination of ideas and sterilizing artists of a society has only one result: killing the roots of art and creativity.  Arresting my colleagues and I while shooting an unfinished film is nothing but an attack by those in power on all the artists of this land. It drives this crystal clear however sad message home: “You will repent if you don't think like us”(...) All  said, despite all the injustice done to me, I, Jafar Panahi, declare once again that I am an Iranian, I am staying in my country and I like to work in my own country. I love my country, I have paid a price for this love too, and I am willing to pay again if necessary.  I have yet an other declaration to add to the first one. As shown in my films , I declare that I believe in the right of “the other” to be different, I believe in mutual understanding and respect, as well as in tolerance; the tolerance that forbid me from judgment and hatred (…)".
Jafar Panahi

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