Iranian filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof, Mostafa Al Ahmad and Jafar Panahi were arrested in their own country in July. What is their situation at the moment?By our entertainment editors
A group of cinematographers, including Mohammad Rasoulof, Mostafa Al Ahmad and Jafar Panahi, wrote a statement at the end of May that eventually led to their arrest. It is in response to government intervention in protests following the collapse of a ten-storey building. On May 23, the Metropol collapsed as a result of various violations in its construction.
According to state media, 41 people have died and 37 people have been injured. The population is taking to the streets demanding that those involved be held accountable. The government responded by cracking down on the protests.
First, Rasoulof and Al Ahmad are arrested, after which Panahi decides to redress at the prison where the two are currently located. The filmmaker is arrested on the spot. Signing the statement is seen as an activity directed against the Iranian regime. Panahi denies that; according to him, the statement is intended to show solidarity and empathy towards the population.
Renowned filmmaker and honored in the film world
Panahi is a renowned filmmaker; he has won several awards in his career, including the Golden Lion for best film at the Venice Film Festival, the Golden Bear for best film at the Berlin Film Festival and the Golden Palm for best screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival. This year he also won a special jury prize for his latest film, from prison No Bears at the Venice Film Festival.
Rasoulof’s work has also been regularly awarded; for example, in 2020 he won a Berlin Golden Bear for his film There Is No Evil.
Not the first arrest for Panahi
Panahi was previously arrested in 2009 and 2010 for allegedly turning against the Iranian regime. When Panahi was released after his second arrest, it was on condition that he would abstain from making films, writing scripts, doing interviews and traveling abroad for 20 years.
Like his colleague, Rasoulof has been arrested several times in Iran. He regularly receives intimidating text messages, threatening more lawsuits and jail time. The three filmmakers are still in prison. Their situation has not been disclosed for about two weeks.
Recently, several journalists, photographers and activists have been arrested for reporting on the protests that have arisen after the death of Mahsa Amini. Amini recently died in a police station after being arrested by the religious police. The 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman is said to have not covered her head properly. Heart problems were the cause of her death, police said. Her family says she was healthy and did not suffer from a heart condition.
Calls from all over the world for the release of the three filmmakers, as well as the journalists and photographers who have been arrested in recent weeks.