An award-winning Iranian director opened a news conference at the Cannes Film Festival following the screening of his film with a call for the release of a fellow Iranian director, who was jailed for making an "anti-regime" film. Abbas Kiarostami, who won the festival's top Palme d'Or award in 1997 and whose latest film, Certified Copy , is in this year's competition, spoke out on behalf of Jafar Panahi, who reportedly was working on a film about the protests that swept the country following the disputed presidential elections last year. Kiarostami, whose new film was greeted with LOUD applause that drowned out a smattering of boos following a press screening in Cannes, told reporters afterwards, "When a filmmaker, an artist is imprisoned it is art as a whole that is attacked." Later, he remarked about Panahi's unfinished feature, "I can't understand how a film can be considered to be a crime particularly when that film has not yet been made." Kiarostami's own films are censored in Iran, and his latest film was shot in Italy, starring French actress Juliette Binoche. "The Iranian government has put a spoke in the wheel of independent filmmakers. That's my case and the case of Jafar Panahi," said Kiarostami. Panahi's first film, The White Balloon, won Cannes' Camera d'Or award in 1995, and his 2000 film The Circle won the Venice Film Festival's top Golden Lion award.

19/05/2010