The Berlin International Film Festival in a recent press release sharply condemned the harsh sentences handed down to the renowned Iranian director Jafar Panahi and his directing colleague Mohammed Rasulof.

According to Tehran Times, “Last week, Panahi was sentenced by a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran to six years in prison, which is redeemable by paying a fine, and a 20-year ban on filmmaking activities.

He has been accused of holding gatherings, conspiracy and propagandizing against the Iranian ruling system.

As a supplementary punishment, he has also been banned from filmmaking, writing screenplays, traveling abroad and giving interviews to media outlets, both domestic and foreign, for 20 years.

His lawyer has appealed the court’s decision.

Panahi and a number of his colleagues were detained at his home in March 2010. They had gathered in Panahi’s home to make plans for a movie about the torture of people jailed at Evin prison after the 2009 presidential election in Iran, Iranian security officials said.

On May 25, Panahi was released on bail after posting a bond of 2 billion rials (about $192,000) after he had gone on a hunger strike to protest the circumstances of his detention.”

The Berlin International Film Festival invited the renowned Iranian director Jafar Panahi to participate in the International Jury of the 61st Berlin International Film Festival.

Berlinale Director Dieter Kosslick: “We are very concerned and filled with indignation over the conviction of Jafar Panahi. It is shocking that a renowned director is punished so severely for his artistic work. Jafar Panahi can be sure he has our full support.”

According to Tehran Times, Iranian Deputy Culture Minister for Cinematic Affairs Javad Shamaqdari rejected the invitation asking Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi to join the jury of the Berlin film festival in February.

Due to his legal case and the court’s verdict on the matter, it is currently impossible for Panahi to join the festival jury, Shamaqdari said in a press release on Saturday. “If the festival managers desire, they can invite other prominent Iranian filmmakers such as (Abbas) Kiarostami, (Masud) Jafari-Jozani, (Shahriar) Bahrani, (Asghar) Farhadi, (Majid) Majidi, (Ebrahim) Hatamikia, (Mohammad-Ali) Talebi, (Rasul) Sadr-Ameli, (Mojtaba) Raei, and (Jamal) Shurjeh to join the jury,” he added.

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