'Propaganda Against the System': Iranian Court Sends Filmmaker to Prison for Six Years

“When a filmmaker does not make films, it is as if he is jailed. Even when he is freed from the small jail, he finds himself wandering in a larger jail.” - Jafar Panahi

On Monday afternoon I received word from an Iranian friend of mine on Facebook regarding the harsh prison sentences recently meted out by an Islamist People’s Court in Iran to renowned international filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof. The news is now breaking worldwide and will no doubt cause a stir everywhere, from Hollywood and ABC to Cannes and the streets of Iran. In brief, the two nationally revered auteurs were just sentenced to six years in prison each for the crime of “participating in a group agitating propaganda against the system.” How Nazi-like does that sound?

The famed directors were also barred from filmmaking for twenty years. Obtaining visas to leave Iran in the future will no doubt be just as severely problematic, as is nearly ever other facet of life in Iran today under the bloody iron boots of the present Shiite Islamist extremist regime terrorizing the nation. It’s called the Ahmie and Khamie Show. How you likin’ it now? I can’t say how I feel about it. I can show you. But War Is Not The Answer, at least not today. That’s just my Alpha Male talking. Against my better judgment, let’s Give Peace a Chance with that foul inhuman regime. Just one more time.

Let’s give them a chance to undo their most serious wrongs to Mr. Panahi, Mr. Rasoulof, the Iranian people, the film world and the rest of civilization at large. The Free Jafar Panahi page is still up on Facebook from the last time Mr. Panahi was unjustly imprisoned, as is the main Jafar Panahi page. Petitions should be peppering those walls in very short order. The popular Cineuropa will also no doubt be on the petition job soon, as they were the last time around. Nothing yet on Mr. Rasoulof. Will update. Feel free to send the Academy a line on behalf of the two filmmakers as well, and please be courteous. This is business.

I expect to be addressing this intolerable situation in-depth in short order, as will be most every other media and trade rag outlet on the planet as word of this cruel abomination of justice spreads. This regime never fails to disappoint, does it? This story is merely the latest tragic episode in an Islamist Iranian Groundhog Day nightmare that only gets worse each time around. And that’s not even counting all the regime-sanctioned white torture, forced confessions, rapes, slaughter and hostage Americans. I’m sick to death of it all!

How’s this for a solution? We free all the innocent in Iran and imprison all the guilty for a change! Let the best of true human justice take its course. But I will try peace today. It is the choice of most Iranians I know, as well as the top Green leaders within and without Iran. I fully respect their wishes. It’s their country after all. I also believe that peace is an approach all of us in the film world and elsewhere can support in full measure regardless of our personal politics.

In the meantime, please make your voices heard where and when you can.

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