The Venice Film Festival protests against the arrest of Iranian director Jafar Panahi

A red carpet protest against the arrest of Iranian director Jafar Panahi will take place at the Venice Film Festival, which begins its 11-day journey of movies and magic on August 31. A “flash mob” will be held just before the premiere of his work, No Bears, on September 9.

Panahi was arrested in June for criticizing the government. This follows a 20-year ban on making films that began in 2010.
The “flash mob” is to record solidarity with many other filmmakers who have been persecuted like Panahi, who was imprisoned for six years.

Panahi co-director Mohammad Rasoulof was also imprisoned.

Panahi, however, remained unfazed, creating one film after another – albeit in great secrecy – and the most famous of them was Taxi in 2015. It won the Golden Bear in Berlin. Panahi disguised himself as a taxi driver and drove his car around Tehran picking up passengers and recording their conversations using a small camera placed on the dashboard.

No Bears comes after it entered the 2018 Cannes competition and won Best Screenplay, 3 Faces. The title of Venice weaves two related love stories, both involving partners overcome by various obstacles. Panahi produced, wrote and directed it. He also plays there alongside Naser Hashemi, Vahid Mobasheri, Bakhtiyar Panjeei and Mina Kavani.

Panahi was last seen at the Lido (off mainland Venice which hosts the Festival) in 2000 with The Circle – which walked away with the best Golden Lion.

Venice also hosts a series of initiatives in favor of Ukraine and its artists on September 8, under the banner “Ukrainian Day”.

The Festival ends on September 10.

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