Iran urged to let banned filmmaker attend Cannes

Oscar-winning Iranian filmmaker urges Iran to let banned director attend Cannes
3 min read
Asghar Farhadi said Iran should allow acclaimed director Jafar Panahi to attend the festival where they both have movies competing for the Palme d'Or.
Asghar Farhadi said Iran should allow acclaimed director Jafar Panahi to attend the festival. [Getty]

The double-Oscar winning Iranian filmmaker who opened the Cannes Film Festival has pleaded with Iran to let a fellow Iranian director attend the festival to premiere his own film.

Asghar Farhadi said Iran should allow acclaimed director Jafar Panahi to attend the festival where they both have movies competing for the Palme d'Or.

"I think there's still time," he said of allowing Panahi to the Saturday premiere of his film "3 Faces".

"I would like to send this message: I hope the decision will be taken to allow him to come," Farhadi said at the end of a news conference on his own movie "Everybody Knows" on Wednesday.

Panahi won the Camera d'Or in Cannes in 1995 for his debut "The White Balloon", but was arrested after the 2009 protests against the re-election of hard-line conservative president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and banned from making films.

He has continued to work under the radar, most recently making "Taxi", in which he plays himself as a film director now working as a taxi driver.

The film won the Golden Bear for best film at the Berlin film festival in 2015.

"It's wonderful that he has continued his work in such adversity," Farhadi told reporters.

"It's a very strange feeling for me to be able to be here but not him. It's something I have difficulty living with."

Farhadi, who won foreign language Oscars for films made in Iran - "A Separation" and "The Salesman" - is free to come and go from his home country as he makes films there and in Europe.

The gala screening of Farhadi's "Everybody Knows" on Tuesday coincided with US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

"It was a very strange day with very mixed feelings," Farhadi told Reuters in an interview.

"We were very happy to see our movie open the competition, and, at the same, to see a deal that took years to reach broken by just one person was a terrible event for my people," he said.

"Maybe they figured they would put the Iranian government under pressure, but the first people to undergo the pressure will be the Iranian people," Farhadi said, referring to the likely economic effect of new US sanctions.

"The mother waiting for medication for her child, human rights activists and women activists who are dedicating their lives to improve the state of this country – they will be given a hard time much more than the government."

The Cannes Film Festival runs from 8 May to 19 May.