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December 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

In a surprisingly iron-fisted action, Iran has sentenced one of its most honored filmmakers to six years in prison and banned him from making films for the next 20 years. Jafar Panahi was convicted of colluding with opponents of Iran’s leadership and making propaganda undermining the government. He was also barred from traveling abroad or speaking to the news media. Panahi won the Camera d’Or award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1995 for his film The White Balloon and the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival in 2000 for The Circle. Hamid Dabashi, a professor of Iranian studies at Columbia University, told Britain’s Guardian newspaper, “This is a catastrophe for Iran’s cinema. … Panahi is now exactly in the most creative phase of his life and by silencing him at this sensitive time, they are killing his art and talent.”