Jafar Panahi, the Iranian director who won the top Golden Bear prize at the Berlin film festival for Taxi, has pleaded with Iran to screen it, saying “no prize is worth as much as my compatriots being able to see my films.”
In 2010, Panahi was convicted of spreading anti-government propaganda and endangering national security with his work, and was sentenced to a jail term and a ban on film-making. While he has never had to serve his prison time, he was placed first under house arrest, during which he made his film This Is Not a Film, which was famously smuggled to the Cannes film festival on a USB stick hidden in a cake.
He has since been allowed to move more freely around Iran, though his passport has not been returned to him, making travel to film festivals like Berlin impossible. He has made This Is Not a Film, Taxi and another film, Closed Curtain, despite the ban.
In an interview with Iranian media following his Golden Bear win, Panahi said: “I’m really happy for me and for Iranian cinema,” but took the opportunity to decry the Iranian government. “The people in power accuse us of making films for foreign festivals. They hide behind political walls and don’t say that our films are never authorised for screening in Iranian cinemas.”