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      Iran Slams 'Illegal' Berlin Film Festival Director

      Iran protested against the awarding of a Silver Bear to Jafar Panahi for the best screenplay at the 63rd Berlin film festival.
      By Rachel Hirshfeld
      First Publish: 2/19/2013, 10:04 PM

      Berlin film festival
      Berlin film festival
      Reuters

      Iran on Monday protested against the awarding of a Silver Bear to Jafar Panahi for the best screenplay for Parde (Closed Curtain) at the 63rd Berlin film festival, the ISNA news agency reported.

      The dissident director and his long-time collaborator Kambuzia Partovi were awarded on Saturday for their noteworthy film, which was made secretly in defiance of a ban by Iranian authorities.

      "We have protested to the Berlin film festival organizers," ISNA quoted the head of the Iran cinema organization and deputy culture minister Javad Shamaqdari as saying.

      "We believe that the Berlin fest organizers should correct their behavior. Everyone knows that making a film and sending it outside the country needs permission.

      "Making these films is illegal, but so far the Islamic republic has shown patience towards such illegal acts," Shamaqdari said.

      Following Iran's disputed 2009 presidential election, Panahi was detained for a documentary he began focusing on the unrest and was banned from making additional films for 20 years.

      He was sentenced to a six-year jail term but currently remains under house arrest.

      However, the director, who has picked up a series 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, according to AFP.

      Although he was prevented from presenting the film in person in Berlin, Panahi himself appears on screen in what AFP calls “his haunting feature about state oppression.”

      The picture was the front-runner in a poll of German critics published by Berlin's daily Tagesspiegel newspaper, which called it "harrowing" and "courageous."

      "It is impossible to stop a thinker and a poet. Their thoughts bear fruit everywhere," Partovi said, accepting the award because Panahi was not granted permission to travel.