Back in May, Jafar Panahi was released by the Iranian government on bail while under charges of creating an “anti-regime” movie. Today, just seven months later, he finds himself facing a six-year long jail sentence and a two-decade long ban from filmmaking. He won’t be allowed to write or have a role in the production of any films for the next 20 years. He also can’t give interviews, speak to the media, or travel abroad during that time.

Considering he’s 50, Panahi won’t be legally allowed to make another film until his 70th birthday. Hopefully the battle isn’t over yet completely, but if it is, it would be an incredible gesture for the 70-year-old Panahi to come out swinging as a birthday gift to the world. Hopefully before then, the regime in Iran will have changed its position.

The acclaimed director made an absolutely beautiful film in The White Balloon and has a host of other moving films under his belt. He’s a Palm d’Or and Golden Lion winner.

It’s a disgrace that the Iranian government would silence his voice simply for being involved in the Green Movement that protested the latest questionable election in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad retained his position.

It’s despicable that this sort of thing can happen today, and it gives a great context to the freedom that filmmakers have elsewhere in the world. At the end of the day, at least they can make a movie as terrible as Garfield 2 without fear of being imprisoned. Fortunately, we can all stage our own small protest by watching Panahi’s films. [The Guardian]

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