- The Iranians Hid a Mic in That Silver Lion!!
Iranian New Wave director Jafar Panahi, the man who helmed the much-celebrated Offside and who edited recent Tribeca critics-favorite The White Meadows, released a statement yesterday—the first since he reportedly began a hunger strike this weekend. Panahi was set to serve on the jury of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, but he has been in an Iranian prison since March 1. The Iranians suspected him of preparing a film “against the regime about the events that followed the events of the election”.
In the statement—sent to Pouya, an Iranian cultural center in Paris, and posted to the web by Bernard-Henri Lévy—Panahi writes:
On Saturday May 15, 2010, prison guards suddenly entered our cell, n° 56. They took us away, my cell mates and I, made us strip and kept us in the cold for an hour and a half.
Sunday morning, they brought me to the interrogation room and accused me of having filmed the interior of my cell, which is completely untrue. Then they threatened to imprison my entire family at Evin and to mistreat my daughter in an unsafe prison in the city of Rejayi Shahr.
I have eaten and drunk nothing since Sunday morning, and I declare that if my wishes are not respected, I will continue to abstain from drinking and eating. I do not want to be a rat in a laboratory, victim of their sick games, threatened and psychologically tortured.
He signs off with: “My final wish is that my remains be returned to my family, so that they may bury me in the place they choose,” which battles for Most Affecting Line with: “I swear upon what I believe in, the cinema”.
Read the whole statement here.
Many Hollywood big shots have signed a petition that calls for Panahi’s release. You can sign a public petition here. And you can join a Facebook group here, which at the moment has a pitiful 107 fans. (Soon to be 108 as I give it the old thumbs up.)