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BSFC Letter - May 20, 2010

 

 

BOSTON SOCIETY OF FILM CRITICS REQUESTS THE STATE DEPARTMEMT TO INTERVENE FOR JAFAR PANAHI

 

 

 

Dear Secretary of State Clinton and members of the State Department,

 

The Boston Society of Film Critics calls on you and the office of the State Department to employ whatever diplomatic means possible to secure the release of Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who has been imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin Prison since March 1st on spurious charges. His crime, in fact, is that of being an uncompromising artist insisting on freedom of speech in a totalitarian society. His incarceration not only strikes a blow against liberty, but diminishes the world of cinema and of artistic expression in general.

 

In recent days his situation has gotten worse. After he thanked the organizers of the Cannes Film Festival for giving him an honorary chair on their jury, he was punished by Iranian officials, who increased his sentence and threatened his family. Panahi has since gone on a hunger strike, vowing not to end it until he is released and his rights are restored.

 

We fear such a just resolution will not occur without the intervention of powerful international authorities such as yourself. Many other groups and individuals have spoken up on behalf of Mr. Panahi, including the French Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand and the filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. We hope you and the State Department will do the same, as was the case last year when you were instrumental in gaining the release of the writer Roxana Saberi under similar circumstances. As the most enduring beacon of hope and freedom in the world today, our country can do no less.

 

 

Thank you for your consideration.

 

 

Thomas B. Meek III

President, the Boston Society of Film Critics

617.957.3896

www.bostonfilmcritics.org