Solidarity with persecuted filmmakers

09 September 2022

Jafar Panahi


Solidarity with persecuted filmmakers

09 September 2022

The International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR) organised two initiatives at the 79th Venice Film Festival to demonstrate solidarity with the directors, filmmakers and artists who have been arrested or imprisoned around the world over the past year, with the purpose of raising awareness of their situation in the media, with governments and international humanitarian organisations.

International panel

We need to “sound a very loud alarm” about the “dramatic increase” in censorship, imprisonment and abuse of filmmakers worldwide, said our IFFR festival director Vanja Kaludjercic at a panel titled Filmmakers Under Attack: Taking Stock, Taking Action on Saturday 3 September at the Venice Film Festival. 

The international panel took place to provide information on the situation of filmmakers who are currently being persecuted, arrested or incarcerated around the world, to express solidarity and concern for their future, to signal the need for the world of cinema to mobilise and to discuss possible actions that the international community could concretely undertake to help them.

The panel included director of the Venice Film Festival Alberto Barbera, producer Nadir Öperli, IDFA director Orwa Nyrabia, chairman of the European Film Academy Mike Downey, Iranian producer Kaveh Farnam and our IFFR festival director Vanja Kaludjercic.

Emergency assistance

Vanja described how in the two years since its foundation, the ICFR has helped filmmakers from Afghanistan to Egypt, Myanmar to Iran, and most recently, in Ukraine where the mobilisation of the international film community has raised €420,000 euros, enough to help with emergency relocation, visas, shelter and other expenses for 400 filmmakers in Ukraine.

“The war in Ukraine showed the power of the film community,” she said, “and demonstrates to the whole world that we can stand up for ourselves and together help our colleagues under threat.”

Orwa Nyrabia also cited the 800 filmmakers and their families who had been helped in Afghanistan, before the panel’s attention turned to the many cases of persecuted filmmakers that ICFR is working on in the rest of the world. These include the cases of Iranian filmmakers Jafar Panahi, Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad

“We are filmmakers, for us to live is to create” said Panahi in a letter sent to the panel, which festival director Alberto Barbara read out. “The hope of creating again is a reason for existence.”

Flash mob

In solidarity with Panahi, a flash-mob was held on Friday, 9 September, 16 before the screening in Sala Grande of the world premiere of his film in competition No Bears

Over 100 filmmakers, artists and other personalities from the film community attended the demonstration on the red carpet of the Palazzo del Cinema to focus attention on the situation of the filmmakers arrested or imprisoned around the world, and in particular Panahi and other persecuted Iranian directors.

Read the report on Screen International

What is ICFR?

Founded by the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, International Film Festival Rotterdam and the European Film Academy, the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk’s mission is to advocate for and to act in solidarity with filmmakers at risk.

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