Iran protests Berlin film festival organizers

The festival awarded Jafar Panahi for "Closed Curtain," but in Iran, he's banned from filmmaking

By Prachi Gupta

Published February 20, 2013 1:39PM (EST)

Iranian officials are protesting the Berlin International Film Festival for awarding Jafar Panahi and Kamboziya Partovi's "Closed Curtain" with best screenplay; Panahi is currently under house arrest in the Islamic republic and banned from making films for 20 years.

Fittingly, his movie portrays a group of people trapped in a villa, evading government authorities.

"We have protested to the Berlin film festival organisers," Iranian cinema chief and deputy culture minister Javad Shamaqdari told the ISNA news agency. "We believe that the Berlin fest organisers should correct their behaviour. Everyone knows that making a film and sending it outside the country needs permission." He added that, "Making these films is illegal, but so far the Islamic republic has shown patience towards such illegal acts."

Panahi was first banned from making "anti-government propaganda," in 2010, not long after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared winner in the presidential elections. This didn't stop him from directing "This Is Not a Film" in 2011, however, which was shot in his apartment and infamously smuggled out of Iran in a USB device put inside a cake.

It is not clear yet whether Panahi and the film's crew will face any consequences. Last week, Partovi said in Berlin, “We don’t know what this will lead to. We are very glad that Jafar had the opportunity to come through with this project… Nothing has happened up to now, but we don’t know what the future holds in store for us.”

Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Berlin Film Festival Cinema Closed Curtain Film Iran Jafar Panahi Movies