We've Got Hollywood Covered

Director Jafar Panahi on Hunger Strike Protest of ‘Illegal and Inhumane’ Imprisonment in Iran

Panahi’s 6-year sentence has been voided by country’s Supreme Court but he has not been released

Iranian director Jafar Panahi, whose film “No Bears,” opened in the U.S. in December, has begun a hunger strike to protest to protest his continued detention at the notoriously harsh Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran, despite an Iranian Supreme Court ruling that overturned his conviction in January.

His wife, Tahereh Saeedi, and son, Panah Panahi, both shared his statement in Instagram posts on Wednesday.

“I firmly declare that in protest against the illegal and inhumane behavior of the judicial and security apparatus and their hostage-taking, I have started a hunger strike since the morning of the 12th of Bahman (February 1),” the statement shared with media outlets read.

“I will refuse to eat and drink any food and medicine until the time of my release. I will remain in this state until perhaps my lifeless body is freed from prison.”

Panahi  was arrested in July and was set to serve six years in prison for a 2010 of “propaganda against the system.” The Supreme Court overturned the conviction on grounds that the 10-year statute of limitations had passed, and kicked his case back to an appeals court.

That original sentence also came with a 20-year ban on directing any movies, writing screenplays, giving interviews with Iranian or foreign media, or leaving the country.

Despite the ban, he has managed to make several films that have been smuggled out of the country and won international awards, including Silver Bears from the Berlin Film Festival for “Closed Curtain” and “Taxi.”

In July of last year, his was imprisoned again after he protested the arrest of fellow filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad, who were detained for questioning the government response to a building collapse that killed more than 40 people.

Panahi’s 1995 film “The White Balloon” won the Camera d’Or at that year’s Cannes Film Festival. It was submitted by Iran as its official Oscar entry. The government later asked that the film be withdrawn, but the Academy refused, even though it was not nominated.

Critic Ben Croll called “No Bears” a “flat-out stunner” in his review for TheWrap: “Formally banned from making movies since 2010, Panahi works on the fly, turning his camera on himself in playful exercises that find creative inspiration in the restrictions meant to stifle. That (government-imposed) project has found its most potent expression in this latest film, which is, in so many ways, about the urge to create no matter the personal or moral cost.”