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Jafar Panahi: Third Iranian filmmaker reportedly arrested in a week

Award winning dissident director arrested after following up on the recent arrest of another filmmaker
Iranian film director Jafar Panahi poses during an interview with AFP in Tehran, on 30 August 2010 (AFP)

Award-winning director Jafar Panahi is the third Iranian filmmaker to be arrested in the past week, according to local media reports. 

Panahi won a Golden Bear - the top prize at the Berlin film festival - for his film Taxi in 2015, and best screenplay at Cannes in 2018 for Three Faces

He was arrested on Monday after going to a local prosecutor’s office to follow up on the recent arrest of another prominent filmmaker, Mohammad Rasoulof, Mehr news agency reported. 

Rasoulof, who won the Golden Bear in 2020 for his film There is No Evil, was arrested last week along with his colleague, Mostafa Aleahmad. 

The two were detained after speaking out against the authorities’ handling of a deadly building collapse on 23 May in Iran’s southwestern Khuzestan province. 

The fatal collapse of a 10-storey Metropol complex in the city of Abadan killed 43 people, sparking angry protests and calls for prosecutions and punishment against officials.

Iranian filmmakers, led by Rasoulof, wrote an open letter calling on security forces to “lay down their arms” following backlash over “corruption, theft, inefficiency and repression” related to the building collapse. 

On Saturday, Berlin film festival organisers protested against Rasoulof and Aleahmad’s detention. 

Panahi was convicted in 2010 of “propaganda against the system” and barred from leaving Iran, after expressing support for anti-government protests and making several films critical of modern Iran. 

Rasoulof’s passport was also confiscated after the premiere of his 2017 film A Man of Integrity, which explores corruption and injustice in Iranian society.