Earlier this year, the international film community was grappling with the very real possibility that the much-respected Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi would die in prison, where he went on a hunger strike to protest his specious imprisonment following his prominent, very measured critiques of his government in the wake of the snuffed-out Green Revolution. In May, following a well-publicized hunger strike, he was released on bail, and stands trial late this month on the charge of making an “anti-regime” film.
In the meantime, Panahi’s new eight-minute short film, The Accordion, is playing at the Venice International Film Festival this week. Panahi requested permission to travel to Italy to present his film; his request was denied. “There have always been restrictions, but over the past year it was the worst,” he said in a recent interview. “I cannot be pessimistic though. Limitations have always existed, and this era will eventually come to an end too.”