Around 40 members of the UK film community gathered at the BFI Southbank yesterday (October 10) to show solidarity with imprisoned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, the women leading the protest movement in Iran and all those demonstrating for the freedom in the country.

BFI London Film Festival Director Tricia Tuttle led the event, which was attended by filmmakers and executives including: Picturehouse Managing Director Clare Binns; former Sundance executive Tabitha Jackson; All the beauty and bloodshed filmmaker Laura Poitras; blue jean director Georgia Oakley; no kings director Roberto Minervini; Last return flight director Ondi Timoner; producer Madeleine Molyneaux; actors Aurélia Petit and Mariam Khundadze; writer Morgan M Page; actor-writer Taki Mumladze; and Jason Wood, Executive Director of Public Programs and Audience at BFI.

“We wanted to invite a moment for all of us to come together, for a moment of togetherness,” Tuttle said. “When we invited Jafar Panahi no bear on screen in the [LFF] festival, we told Picturehouse, which is releasing the film in the UK, that we wanted to have a moment for Jafar, Mohamad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad. What we didn’t know then was that the whole world, and especially the world of Iranians, would be turned upside down in the last three weeks.

“I personally want today to stand in solidarity with Iranian women who are risking their lives and fighting for their freedom. Today we stand in solidarity with other filmmakers around the world, and I would like to name a few filmmakers who have been very important to the festival, who are in prison for having defended freedom in their own country. I would quote Ma Aeint who made Money has four legs who we screened at the festival last year, who was imprisoned in Myanmar this spring, I would also like to talk about Çiğdem Mater, who is also in prison in Turkey.

“Many countries are represented here today. We all come from countries that limit the freedom to demonstrate, to demonstrate, it happens everywhere. In some places people are risking their lives for thinking in ways they have no right to think or for saying words they have no right to say.

The event took place before Panahi’s no bear premiered at the BFI London Film Festival. The film had its world premiere in Venice, where it won the Special Jury Prize.

Repression in Iran

Venice Golden Lion winner Panahi was sentenced to six years in prison in July this year. He was arrested after inquiring about directors Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad, who were arrested in early July.

Panahi and Rasoulof had previously been arrested in 2010 for criticizing the government in their films and during protests. Panahi was sentenced to six years in prison in 2010, serving two months before being granted parole. Panahi has since been banned from leaving Iran and making films and has been largely confined to his home for the past 12 years.

Protests erupted in Iran and around the world after Mahsa Amini, 22, was killed in police custody on September 16, after being arrested for allegedly wearing her hijab too loosely.