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Release Panahi, Rasoulof and Al-Ahmad!

11 July 2022

Mohammad Rasoulof

The International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR) calls on the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Jafar Panahi, Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad and we encourage all film and cultural institutions around the world to do the same.

The Iranian authorities have arrested Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad over an appeal they posted on social media speaking out against the unproportionate repression of civil protestors. Jafar Panahi has then been arrested as he was protesting the detention of his colleagues at Tehran’s Evin prison.

According to Iran’s news agency IRNA, the award-winning filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof and documentary filmmaker, writer and researcher Mostafa Al-Ahmad were taken into custody for posting a statement on social media urging members of the Iranian security forces to lay down their weapons.

The hashtag #put_your_gun_down is a reference to the violent crackdown during the unrest following a building collapse in the southwestern city of Abadan that killed at least 41 people earlier this year.

The report does not elaborate when the two were arrested. At least 70 Iranian filmmakers and movie industry workers had signed the appeal.

Rasoulof's passport had been confiscated after his 2017 film A Man of Integrity (IFFR 2018) premiered at Cannes, where it won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard section of the festival. In 2020 he won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for There is No Evil which, like his previous films, casts a critical eye on the consequences of life under authoritarian rule.

Shortly after receiving the award he was sentenced to a year in prison for “propaganda against the system.” He was also banned from making films and traveling abroad. Following his release in 2021, he has now been re-arrested.

A statement published on Kinolorber (Rasoulof's US distributor) condemns the arrest while revealing that the two filmmakers are currently being held in an unknown location.

Jafar Panahi, who has won numerous awards, including the Golden Leopard at Locarno Festival, the Golden Lion in Venice, and the Silver Bear at the Berlinale, was once arrested in March 2010 and later charged with propaganda against the regime. He is also an ambassador to the ICFR where he stated, “The unconditional support of filmmakers is the best support a filmmaker at risk can get.”

On 15 July 2022, Mike Downey and Orwa Nyrabia wrote an open letter for the ICFR to create more awareness on the issue. 

Read the open letter on ICFR.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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