Prominent Iranian film director and screenwriter Jafar Panahi was arrested in Tehran on Monday, reportedly when he went to the prosecutor’s office to enquire about the situation of fellow filmmaker, Mohammad Rasoulof.
Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad, another Iranian filmmaker, were arrested on Friday for their participation in a social media campaign urging the police not to use weapons against protestors.
The campaign, #put_your_gun_down, had been launched in reaction to police violence targeting peaceful protests over the collapse of a building in Abadan on 23 May that left at least 41 people dead.
The organisers of the Cannes Film Festival called for the release of the three filmmakers.
They said in a statement on Monday:
“The Festival de Cannes strongly condemns these arrests as well as the wave of repression that is obviously in progress in Iran against its artists. The festival calls for the immediate release of Mohammad Rasoulof, Mostafa Aleahmad and Jafar Panahi.”
Panahi, globally renowned for award winning films such as ‘The Circle’, ‘Offside’, ‘This is Not a Film’, 2015 Berlin Golden Bear winner ‘Taxi’ and ‘3 Faces’ that was awarded best screenplay at Cannes in 2018, was previously arrested with Rasoulof after anti-government protests in 2010 and sentenced to six years in jail, after which neither were permitted to leave the country.
Mohammad Rasoulof’s ‘There Is No Evil’ won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2020.