• Germany edition
 
Berlinale 2013
Iran director Panahi makes cry for freedom
Photo: DPA

Iran director Panahi makes cry for freedom

Published: 13 Feb 2013 06:06 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Feb 2013 06:06 GMT+01:00

"Closed Curtain", which Panahi co-directed with longtime collaborator Kambuzia Partovi, tells the story of two people on the run from the police hiding out at a secluded villa.

The older fugitive owns a dog, banned as pets because Islamic law deems the animals to be unclean, while the young woman, who soon proves suicidal, was caught attending an illicit party on the Caspian Sea.

They keep the drapes drawn to avoid detection by the authorities but while the man tries to keep working -- on a film script, as it happens -- she slips deeper into despair.

Panahi was detained for a documentary he tried to make on the unrest following the 2009 election and banned from making more films for 20 years. He was given a six-year jail sentence but currently remains under house arrest.

But the director, who has picked up a clutch of prizes at major international festivals for socially critical movies that are outlawed in Iran, has been feted abroad as one of the most original voices of the Iranian new wave.

Though he was prevented from coming to present the film in Berlin, Panahi appears on screen during the second half of the picture and it remains unclear

whether the two fugitives are not just a figment of his imagination as the action moves from reality to fiction and back again.

The walls of the villa are covered with European versions of his own film posters including the 2000 picture "The Circle" which ends with a prison door slamming shut on a cell containing all the main female protagonists.

Partovi, who also plays the role of the man with the dog, said Panahi had been deeply depressed due to the official restrictions when they started working on the project, which he said was aimed at "bridging this hard period".

"It's difficult to work but not being able to work is even more difficult, particularly at the height of your career," he said.

Partovi said it was unclear what consequences the new picture, which got a mixed reception in Berlin, would have for them in Iran.

"Nothing has happened until now but we don't know what the future has in store for us," he said.

Maryam Moghadam, the lead actress, said her character represented Panahi's desperation.

"She's the dark side, the hopelessness of every person and specifically the director in the movie," she said. "The dark side of his mind, the hopeless power -- that part that doesn't hope any more and wants to give up."

Panahi's "This Is Not A Film" had to be smuggled out in a USB key hidden inside a cake to be screened at the Cannes film festival.

Cannes, Berlin and Venice invited him to sit on their juries in 2010 and 2011 but because he was barred from leaving the country, organisers left a symbolic empty chair for him to remind film-goers of his plight.

Panahi, who was born in 1960, was awarded in December the prestigious Sakharov human rights prize by the European Parliament -- a move that enraged Iran and further strained relations with the Islamic republic.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman on Monday said Berlin had appealed to Tehran to allow Panahi to attend the festival and protesters outside the Berlinale cinema held up cardboard cutouts of the director demanding he be free to travel.

Panahi released a statement with the press materials for the film, saying the story served as a metaphor for his personal plight.

"'Closed Curtain' uses shifting genres and stories within stories to highlight why film-making is a necessity in a film-maker's life: it is the imperative need to show the reality of the world we live in," he said.

"Closed Curtain" is one of 19 films vying for the Berlin's Golden Bear top prize to be awarded Saturday.

A gripping Iranian families drama, "A Separation" by Asghar Farhadi, won the Golden Bear in 2011 at a festival that has long spotlighted the country's embattled directors.

AFP/mry

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall
Photo: Paul Sullivan

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall

Two expats who walked the Mauerweg - the 160-kilometre trail that runs the length of the former Berlin Wall - have written a book about forgotten aspects of its past and present. READ  

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat
Photo: DPA

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat

Germany's biggest department store chain Karstadt will close at least six stores, putting around 2,000 jobs at risk, in a drastic bid by its new boss to return it to profit. READ  

Quiz
How well do you know Germany?
Photos: DPA/Shutterstock

How well do you know Germany?

Do you know your Saxony facts from your Saxony-Anhalt ones? Test your knowledge of Germany's federal states in The Local's quiz. READ  

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal
Pollution from a coal-fired power station in Frimmersdorf, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal

The UN's climate chief hailed a European agreement in Bonn on greenhouse gases on Friday as providing "valuable momentum" for a world pact to be inked in Paris next year. READ  

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth
Photo: DPA

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth

Germany will get an early Christmas present of around €779 million from the EU, thanks to weaker than expected GDP growth. READ  

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told
Photo: DPA

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told

It will take several days to find out what caused a massive explosion on Thursday which rocked a town on the Rhine, killing a builder and injuring 26 others. READ  

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'
An NH90 helicopter. Photo: DPA

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'

Germany's fleet of NH90 helicopters is undergoing engineering checks after one of them suffered a serious engine failure, in the latest blow to the country's military capabilities. READ  

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m
Rainer Schwarz at a court hearing in September into the case. Photo: DPA

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m

The man who was blamed for Berlin's miserable attempt to build a new airport must be paid more than €1 million - after being fired. READ  

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Kurds watching the attack on Kobane. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pressed UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to bring possible poison gas use by Isis in Iraq before the Security Council. READ  

Spring back in German consumers' step?
Photo: DPA

Spring back in German consumers' step?

Update: Consumer confidence in Germany has stopped falling, as households appear to be no longer fazed by concerns about the economic fallout from geopolitical crises, a new poll found on Friday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Politics
Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: Huge explosion rocks Ludwigshafen
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
Which high school cliche is your German city?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Storm hits southern Germany
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,525
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd