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January 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

In addition to announcing its selection of outstanding film achievements in 2010, the National Society of Film Critics, whose members include some of the country’s most respected critics, has condemned the prison sentences meted out to Iranian directors Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulaf, who were also banned from making movies for 20 years.

Jafar Panahi

“Not only does the court’s decision impose an outrageous penalty on artists whose sole crime is telling the truth, but it deprives Iran and the world of future works by filmmakers of outstanding talent and vision,” the group said. “We intend our protest to affirm the value of artistic expression and the power of cinema to transcend political differences and unite people in their common humanity.” The group also issued a second statement questioning the “integrity and legitimacy” of the MPAA’s ratings system following the decision to impose an R rating on The King’s Speech and the documentaries The Tillman Story, which examined the cover-up of the friendly fire death of former NFL star Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, and A Film Unfinished, which used film taken by the Nazis inside the Warsaw ghetto during WWII. In the case of the two documentaries, the critics’ statement said, “this amounts to [the ratings board] assigning a rating to reality.” It went on: “There is no equivalence between an R given to the most explicit horror images and the same rating given to a drama in which King George VI utters a four letter word. And certainly no equivalence to a historical document showing the emaciated bodies of dead Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto.” It concluded that the board “has become an agency of de facto censorship.” Separately, the group gave its award for the best picture of the year to The Social Network and named its star, Jesse Eisenberg, best actor. Giovanni Mezzogiorno was named best actress for her performance in the Italian film Vincere.