Art as Crime?
The repression of Iranian filmmakers and actors has increased dramatically in the last few months, not only with Marzieh Vafamehr (My Tehran for Sale) who was sentenced to one year in prison and 90 lashes for taking part in a film that was made with permission from Iranian authorities, but also with the sentencing of Jafar Panahi. Panahi has been under house arrest for months and was sentenced to six years prison and banned from writing scripts and/or making films for twenty years.
In Solidarity with all the artists, directors and actors like Marzieh Vafamehr and Jafar Panahi, a group of prominent Iranians including Women Without Men director Shirin Neshat, Mohsen Makhmalbalf and Oscar-nominated actress Shohreh Aghdashlou have called on countries worldwide to boycott official Iranian film and TV organizations and sanction its members. Read the full article from IndieWire here.
In just 10 days our own Iranian film Dog Sweat, directed by Hossein Keshavarz, is set for release at Quad Cinemas in NYC, West End Cinema in DC and Laemmle theatres in LA. Usually, this close to a release, we would be madly dashing around the office praying for a great opening weekend and trying to get all our ducks aliened (complete madness basically). However, with this release we now feel very uneasy about the safety of those involved and have slowed our pace…
A film shot in secret on the streets of Tehran in 2009, exploring a rebellious Iranian youth culture, may just be too much for the Iranian government. So our biggest question is this: if we release this film are we endangering the lives of its cast? But if we don’t release this film, was their risk in its creation all in vein?
Questions we have yet to answer… What kind of world do we live in, when art is a crime?