When world-renowned filmmaker Jafar Panahi was sentenced to six years in prison earlier this week, the verdict reverberated both inside and outside Iran.
Not only did authorities in Tehran hand down an exceptionally harsh sentence, they also decreed that the 50-year-old Panahi will be banned from filmmaking, screenwriting and traveling abroad for the next 20 years. According to his relatives, Panahi has also been banned from talking to the media.
Along with Panahi, Muhammad Rasoulof, another filmmaker involved with Panahi’s movie, was also sentenced to six years in prison.
Actors and filmmakers the world over have signed a petition, calling for Panahi’s release.
“I was shocked and disheartened by the news of Jafar Panahi and Mohammed Rasoulof’s conviction and sentencing,” director Martin Scorsese said in a statement this week.
“It’s depressing to imagine a society with so little faith in its own citizens that it feels compelled to lock up anyone with a contrary opinion. As filmmakers, we all need to stand up for Panahi and Rasoulof. We should applaud their courage and campaign aggressively for their immediate release.”