Iranian filmmakers on the barricades


Except for Ahmadenijad's periodic nuclear boasts and half-hearted denunciations of Iranian tyranny and warmongering by the West, people aren't as worked up about the ongoing tumult in Iran as they are, for example, by Tiger Woods's upcoming press conference. Meanwhile, countless filmmakers, amateurs and ordinary people with cell phones and other recording devices, have been broadcasting images of the repression and resistance on YouTube and elsewhere online.

More recognized filmmakers such as Mohsen Makhmalbaf have used their medium and reputations to try to keep the rest of the world informed of the struggle. As reported in the "Wall Street Journal,"  Makhmalbalbaf was in New York recently to receive the Freedom to Create Prize. He's also on a world wide tour interviewing people on camera about the Iranian situation for a documentary project. About his  colleagues in the streets Makhmalbaf says "[they] are the most honest filmmakers of Iran. I think the thing they are doing is more important than all of the history of our cinema. For the past 30 years, we were trying to reach some kind of reality in art. We used our films like a mirror in front of society. But their images are full of reality; there is no artificiality. We were talking about democracy; they are in danger for democracy."

Sure to be included among the most important filmmakers in Iran if he were allowed to make movies any more is Jafar Panahi. Lately he has been trying to get the anti-government message out by attending film festivals such as Montreal  where he has spoken out bravely and without compromise against the rigged elections and the tyranny of the regime.

Not anymore. According to "IndieWire," the Iranian government has forbidden him from attending the Berlin Film Festival, the Berlinale, where he had won a Silver Bear for his film "Offside" in 2006. Panahi was supposed to participate in a panel discussion there on "Iranian Cinema: Present and Future" on Wednesday.

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