Protests in Iran’s cultural scene: The imprisoned director Jafar Panahi is free again

On February 10, 2011, one chair remained empty at the opening gala in the Berlinale Palast to attract public attention. It was intended for Jury President Jafar Panahi; five years earlier, the Iranian director had received the grand jury prize in Berlin for his film “Offside” about a group of girls who are trying all sorts of tricks to get past the law enforcement officers into a football stadium. Panahi, however, was not allowed to leave the country after being sentenced to six years in prison for alleged “anti-regime propaganda” – although the 2010 sentence was not carried out. International protests did not help. The symbol of the empty chair had to be used again and again in the years that followed, as an expression of how the Iranian regime dealt with its critical artists.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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