Iranian director Jafar Panahi released on bail from Tehran prison

Panahi's case will be reviewed in March, so the release could just be temporary, according to several sources

IANS Photo
IANS Photo

NH Digital

Dissident Iranian director Jafar Panahi has been released from Tehran's Evin prison, his wife Tahereh Saeidi announced in an Instagram post.

However, Panahi is out on bail and his case will be reviewed in March, so the release could just be temporary, according to several sources.

The director was released two days after announcing that he was going on a hunger strike to protest still being incarcerated after Iran's Supreme Court had in last October overturned a six-year sentence issued against him in 2010 for "propaganda against the system", 'Variety' reported.

That sentence had become obsolete due to the country's 10-year statute of limitations. But the directors' wife and lawyers said that Iranian security services were forcing the judiciary to keep Panahi behind bars.

"Although I am happy about Panahi's release, it must be said that it should have taken place three months ago," the director's lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, said in a statement, which has been accessed by 'Variety'.

He noted that Panahi should have been released on bail on October 18 last year, the day his sentence was overturned.

As per 'Variety', Panahi, 62, is considered one of Iranian cinema's greatest living masters.

He is known globally for prize-winning works such as 'The Circle', 'Offside', 'This is Not a Film', 'Taxi', and most recently, 'No Bears', winner of last year's Special Jury Prize at the Venice International Film Festival.

The Berlin Film Festival, which awarded 'Taxi' a Golden Bear prize in 2015, immediately issued a statement to express joy that Panahi has been freed.

"We were very concerned for the health of Jafar Panahi and are now very glad that he has finally been released," directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian said.

The director was arrested last July from Tehran in the wake of the country's conservative government crackdown.

After several years of making short film, Panahi as an assistant director with a fellow Iranian film-maker Abbas Kiarostami, achieved international recognition with a feature film.

Panahi's first work as assistant director with a fellow Iraninan filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami for the film The White Balloon (1995) achieved international recognition.

The White Balloon - feature film won the Caméra d'Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival, the first major award won by an Iranian film at Cannes.

His films won numerous awards, including the Golden Leopard at the Locarno International Film Festival for The Mirror (1997), the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for The Circle (2000), and the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for Offside (2006).

In February 2013 the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival showed Closed Curtain (2013) by Panahi and Kambuzia Partovi in competition; Panahi won the Silver Bear for Best Script. Panahi's new film Taxi (2015) premiered in competition at the 65th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2015 and won Golden Bear, the prize awarded for the best film in the festival.

With Inputs from IANS and IMDB

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