Artists from around the world have called for the release of the Iranian film-maker Jafar Panahi, who was arrested in a raid on his home in Tehran. The award-winning director, a vocal supporter of the Opposition, was seized on Monday night along with
his wife and daughter and 15 house guests.
It is a very shocking development and further demonstration of the intolerance of the regime, said Ken Loach, the British director. I hope all people working in films will call for his release, and speak out in solidarity for him and all
Iranian film-makers working under similar conditions. It is completely unacceptable.
Panahi had supported Mir Hossein Mousavi, the opposition leader, in last year's disputed parliamentary elections. He was previously arrested in July at a ceremony commemorating Neda Soltan, the anti-Government protester who was killed by security forces
Last month, Panahi was denied permission to leave Iran to attend the Berlin Film Festival.
Panahi's work has received critical acclaim for its unflinching portrayal of social tensions in contemporary Iran. In 2000, he won the top prize at the Venice Film Festival for The Circle, which depicted women struggling with the country's
inherent sexism. His most recent feature, Offside , depicted a group of women defying a ban on them attending football matches, and attempting to enter the national stadium disguised as men to watch a crucial World Cup qualifier. The film won the
2006 Silver Bear award in Berlin.
Despite his international success, the critical stance in most of Panahi's work has led to conflict with government censors. Most of his films are banned from being shown in Iranian cinemas.
Update: Hunger Strike
22nd May 2010. See
The internationally acclaimed filmmaker Jafar Panahi has begun a hunger strike to protest at his imprisonment in Iran, opposition websites say.
The writer and director was arrested in March along with members of his family.
Panahi's family were released shortly after their arrest, but he was taken to Evin prison in Tehran.
His wife, Tahereh Saeidi, told the opposition Rahesabz website the director had informed her by phone that he had stopped eating and drinking until he was allowed to see his family and a lawyer.