The organisers of Germany's Berlin Film Festival will turn the spotlight on the plight of jailed Iranian director Jafar Panahi by honouring him at the 2011 event in protest of his six-year sentence.
The filmmaker, an outspoken supporter of Iran's opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi, received the punishment in December (10) after he was convicted of campaigning against the country's government and shooting without permission.
He was also banned from writing or making films for 20 years, according to his lawyers.
Panahi's legal troubles have caught the attention of Hollywood heavyweights Martin Scorsese, Harvey Weinstein, Sean Penn and Paul Haggis, who have all backed an Amnesty International campaign to free him and his co-defendant, Mohammad Rasoulof, who was also ordered to serve six years behind bars.
And now Berlin Film Festival bosses are doing what they can to put pressure on the Iranian government to release the pair, particularly as Panahi was due to serve as a jury member at next month's (Feb11) festival.
In a statement, Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick says, "We are going to use every opportunity to protest against this drastic verdict."
The Berlin Film Festival will take place from 10 to 20 February (11).