Incarceration inspires Jafar Panahi. Though under house arrest since 2010, and banned for 20 years from filmmaking, he made his first film in five years, This Is Not a Film (2011). He smuggled it out of the country in a cake. Like most of his films, it can't be shown in Iran.
That conviction was not his first run-in with confinement. He served a stint as a POW during the Iran-Iraq War in 1982, and his earliest bust came in April 2001, when the NYPD, alarmed by his Iranian citizenship, detained him at JFK airport, where he was waiting for a connection to Buenos Aires to attend a film festival. They released him the next day.
In 2003 he was arrested in Iran, and released after the authorities suggested that he leave the country. He declined, and ran out of luck in 2010, when he was arrested after showing support for the Iranian pro-democracy movement while attending the Montreal and Berlin film festivals. The court convicted him of "propaganda against the state," and sentenced him to a six-year term, which, after an unsuccessful appeal, he serves today.
While he was in Montreal, I interviewed him and asked if he was worried about the consequences of his outspokenness. He said "the power of cinema" would protect him. As he continues "not" making films, it seems he was right.
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