Cannes zooms in on Iran's troubled filmmakers

CANNES, France — Iran's harried film-makers took centre stage in Cannes Tuesday as Abbas Kiarostami presented his latest work, while back home his colleague Jafar Panahi languished in a Tehran jail.

Kiarostami, who took the Palme d'Or here in 1997 but whose films are censored at home, presented "Certified Copy," about an English writer hitting it off in Italy with an art dealer played by French star Juliette Binoche.

The film, the first that the director has shot outside Iran, is one of the 19 movies in the race for the Palme top prize to be handed out on Sunday.

Jailed director Panahi has been invited to join the festival jury that will decide who wins the prestigious award.

But Panahi has been held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison since March 1, when he was detained reportedly for making a film about Iran's disputed 2009 presidential election.

The jury, headed by "Alice in Wonderland" director Tim Burton, last week joined calls for Panahi's release and left a seat symbolically empty for him on stage at the film festival's red-carpet gala opening.

Last Thursday Cannes festival organisers screened a clip of Panahi describing being interrogated by a police officer some time before his latest arrest.

"He asked me, 'Why do you stay in Iran? Why don't you make films abroad?" Panahi said in the clip.

Kiarostami, who won the 1997 Palme for best film with "Taste of Cherry" but whose movies have been banned from Iranian c... >>>

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