• Germany's news in English
 
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

"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
'Wrong but legal' claims child porn case ex-MP
Edathy preparing to face questions in Berlin Photo: DPA

'Wrong but legal' claims child porn case ex-MP

A former rising star of German politics who resigned after pictures of naked children were allegedly found on his official laptop said Thursday what he did was "wrong, but legal." READ  

This week in history
A Brandt name to relaunch a country
Willy Brandt being sworn into office in 1972 Photo: DPA

A Brandt name to relaunch a country

We know him as Willy Brandt - but that was just a pseudonym the former chancellor took to avoid the Nazis. READ  

10,000 evacuated after WWII bomb find
A similar bomb defused in Potsdam in September 2013. Photo: DPA

10,000 evacuated after WWII bomb find

Local authorities evacuated some 10,000 people from central Potsdam after an unexploded Second World War bomb was found on a building site. READ  

Sunny outlook for business this winter
Photo: DPA

Sunny outlook for business this winter

German business confidence rose in December on the back of falling oil prices and a weak euro, the Ifo economic institute said Thursday, as the prospects for Europe's biggest economy grew sunnier. READ  

Merkel says Russia sanctions 'unavoidable'
Photo: DPA

Merkel says Russia sanctions 'unavoidable'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Thursday that sanctions against Russia remain "unavoidable" until Ukraine regains its sovereignty and independence. READ  

Reus fined €540k for no driving licence
Photo: DPA

Reus fined €540k for no driving licence

Germany and Dortmund football star Marco Reus was hit by a €540,000 fine Thursday, after state prosecutors in Dortmund confirmed he has been driving for years without a licence. READ  

British and German troops relive Xmas truce
Soldiers in World War One period uniforms watch the football match. Photo: DPA

British and German troops relive Xmas truce

Teams from the British and German armies played a friendly football game in Aldershot on Wednesday in memory of the Christmas truce of 1914. READ  

Germany hails Obama's 'courage' over Cuba
Former Cuban President Fidel Castro. Photo: DPA

Germany hails Obama's 'courage' over Cuba

Berlin has welcomed the thaw in US-Cuban relations partly brokered in secret by Pope Francis at the Vatican. READ  

American guilty of killing Hamburg student
Diren Dede's grieving parents outside the court in Missoula Photo: DPA

American guilty of killing Hamburg student

A US court has found a man who shot and killed 17-year old German exchange student Diren Dede guilty of deliberate homicide. READ  

Cabinet agrees road toll for foreigners from 2016
Photo: DPA

Cabinet agrees road toll for foreigners from 2016

After months of bickering among the coalition parties, the cabinet finally agreed to put a road toll for foreigners before parliament, but open questions about its financial viability and legality remain. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sponsored Article
Why are these International Baccalaureate students cheering?
Germany's national football team lifts the World Cup trophy
Gallery
Germany's most-Googled words of 2014
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Stuff your face with these festive German cookies
Photo: DPA
Culture
What do beer, breakfast cereal and dildos have in common?
Culture
The Local's guide to German Christmas markets
Sponsored Article
Top five quirky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles through December 19th
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
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

3,174
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd