Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Photos show Panahi gaunt, yet determined, just after his release

Celebrated filmmaker Jafar Panahi posed for several photos in his Tehran home just after being released on bail from Evin Prison on Tuesday, May 25, 2010. The images show a gaunt, yet determined, Panahi. He had started a hunger strike last weekend to protest threats made against his family -- particularly to imprison his daughter and subject her to inhumane treatment in jail -- and to gain access to his family and lawyer.

Panahi had been arrested on March 1 on charges which have yet to be explained by the Islamic regime. He awaits trial at the Tehran Revolutionary Court.

Bail was set at 200 million toumans (about $200,000). The sum, significant in the West, is back-breakingly steep in the Islamic Republic. The regime uses such large bail amounts as a weapon to keep dissidents in check, even after they have been temporarily released from prison.

Panahi is said to have been preparing a film based on the post-election unrest when he was arrested. In September 2009, he was the president of the jury at the 33rd Montreal Film Festival and used the occasion to voice his support for the democracy movement in Iran. He was subsequently banned from traveling abroad.

The following footage shows Panahi at the Montreal festival, where he explained he was wearing a green scarf for 'the kids in Iran. For freedom. For the kids who are in prison. They don't allow us to make films now, but hundreds of thousands of kids with cameras have become filmmakers.'

In an unscripted and moving moment on the red carpet, Panahi called over a number of Iranian protesters and embraced them. 'Long live the children of Iran,' he said as he applauded the green-clad group.