BERLIN: Isabella Rossellini Reads Jafar Panahi's Prison Letter


BERLIN: Isabella Rossellini Reads Jafar Panahi's Prison Letter
by Darius Kadivar

BERLIN – Isabella Rossellini turned the Berlin Film Festival's opening night gala into a public condemnation of the Iranian regime when she read aloud from a letter by director Jafar Panahi,written from his prison cell in Tehran. (See Related Article: Isabella Rossellini Reads Prison Letter From Jafar Panahiat Berlin Fest's Opening Night Gala (Berlin) )


Jafar Panahi, open letter to Berlin Film Festival.10 Feb 2011. Berlin - Germany:

Panahi, who was to be a member of the Berlin Festival jury this year, was sentenced to six years in prison and banned for making films for 20 years for the crime ofmaking a movie in Iran without official government sanction.
"The world of the filmmaker is marked by the inter play between reality and dreams,"read Rossellini, the president of the jury in Berlin this year.

"Thereality is they have deprived me of thinking and writing for twenty years, but they can not keep me from dreaming that in twenty years inquisition and intimidation will be replaced by freedom and free thinking.They have condemned me to twenty years of silence. Yet in my dreams, I scream for a time when we can tolerate each other, respect each other's opinions, and live for eachother."

The full text of Panahi's letter – inEnglish and Farsi -can be read here.

"We realize reading this here could make things worse for Jafar but we spoke with him and he definitely wanted us todo this," said Berlin Festival director Dieter Kosslick."These might be the last words we hear from him (for a long time)."

Jafar Panahi - Berlinale Opening 2011:


The Berlin crowd – including the stars of Berlin's opening night film True GritJeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld,Josh Brolin and filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen -- gavea standing ovation in Panahi's honor. On stage was an empty white chair bearing the director's name.

Persian Tribute Song to Casablanca Starring Ingrid Bergman ( Isabella Rosselini's Mother) and Humphry Bogart:


Casablanca- I go to the cafe every night - Hayedeh:


German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann,who officially opened the festival, joined in the condemnation of theIranian regime.

"An attack on a filmmaker's freedom isan attack onthe very basis of freedom itself," Neumann said.

The Berlin Festival is turning this year's event into a two-week protest against thejailing of Panahi and his director colleague Mohammad Rasoulof, who received the same prison sentence. The festival will screen a series of Panahi's films, starting Friday with Offside, which won the Silver Bearin Berlin in 2006.


more from Darius Kadivar

A miserable attempt to oppress free spirits

by radius-of-the-persian-cat on

What a helpless reaction of the regime that faces its influence on the people declining day after day. A crowd of stupid old men who think that the free spirits of people and their desire for a self-determined life can be oppressed by manipulated elections or by putting them in prison. The mullahs might still be able to physically control people, but their ideas, books, their movies and songs will find their way to the global audience anyhow.

The detention of the two film directors Jafar Panah and Mohammad Rasoulof only promoted the interest of the german audience for the independent cinematography of Iran. Never before there were so many movies by iranian directors on the screens and on TV. Movies such as  "Women without Men" by Shirin Neshat , "The Green Wave" by Ali Samadi Ahadi, "Darbareye Elly" by Asghar Farhadi, "The circle" by Panahi and "White Meadows" by Rasoulof all show the german audience another Iran, one that loves freedom and culture and that"s wisdom is in a direct line to ancient persian values.



by comrade on

These mullahs are good for nothing. During our late Shah no letter could ever reach a festival. That was the way to run a prison. Pffffffttttttt.


Ok, yes: Freedom of all political prisoners is our legitimate national demand. 

Never increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.