Cinematic Hope, Incarcerated! By Satyen K.

Bordoloi 2010 witnessed the greatest act of solidarity in the world of cinema ever and it happened twice and will happen again in 2011 Even the biggest global stars are hardly ever so conspicuous by their absence as Jafar Panahi was. And to be that at 2010’s greatest annual cinematic event, the Cannes Film Festival, where a seat with Panahi’s nametag was left ceremoniously empty, must take some doing. But that is indeed the story of Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi sentenced to 6 years in prison by the Iranian government. After being imprisoned in March, he got out on bail three months due to his own fast in prison and protest by a plethora of cinematic stars worldwide who rallied behind him including Abbas Kiarostami, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Soderbergh, Ang Lee and Oliver Stone. It was the greatest solidarity the global film fraternity has ever bestowed on their own kind. Sadly that wasn’t enough. On 20th December the Iranian government sentenced him to 6 years and barred him from being involved with any kind of cinema for 20 years. In an age when films are thought to be petty entertainment, it is refreshing to know that cinema has not lost its power to rile the establishment. That is the only silver lining in the dark cloud of repression Iran has practice on its artists, treating them like petty criminals. Panahi’s opposition of the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is no secret. He openly and vocally supported opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi and has been equally vociferous, if not overtly vitriolic in his film about the plight of the nation, especially women. Panahi, a friend and disciple of Abbas Kiarostami, began with White Balloon in 1995, that won the prestigious Golden Camera at Cannes. His next ‘The Mirror’ in 1997 took a leap of cinematic narrative rarely dared when the feature film became a documentary midway with the little actress playing a girl looking for her way home in the first half, refusing to act and heading to her real home alone, as a shaky camera follows her, thus blending feature with documentary. It was with his Venice Golden Lion winner ‘The Circle’ in 1999 that the real Panahi emerged, as he told the story of four ‘fallen women’ according the Iranian law and custom. He showed the women of Iran, as not just being suppressed, but as bold human beings with the nerve to take their life in their own hands even as the society closes their doors on them. It is a film that the oppressive Iranian regime and its dominating masculinity will not forgive, or forget for its ability to decimate the hypocrisy and cruelty of men in power, politically and socially.

the former being the story of an entrepreneurial widow trying to be independent but failing in a male dominant society and the later being a more direct. It’s been a long time since the world has felt that. and thus minds of people. . something which he continued with Café Transit in 2005 and Offside in 2006.The film gave a glimpse of the claustrophobia of being a woman in Iran. And just for that. The brutality and arrogance of the Iranian government to silence an artist with the aim to suppressing any form of dissent may be stupid as it has not only alienated any global sympathies for the regime. but also caused much bad press considering the Hollywood filmmakers power over global media. Jafar Panahi has become an emblem of the compassionate film maker and his oppression thus has become a symbol of the fact that in an age of over-invasive media. releasing him only after his fast and the mounting global pressure only to be incarcerated again that saw the who’s who of cinema rise up to his defense once again. especially the visual type. cinema does matter. and vocal support of opposition leader leader Mir Hossein Moussavi and the Green Movement inflamed the administration. which incarcerated him for three months beginning March. it is a fight the world will not shy away from in 2011. yet breezy story of a few women trying to sneak into a football match disguised as men as Iran forbids women in football stadiums. His criticism of Iranian customs and laws.

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