Art & Entertainment

Experts Say Arrests Of Dissident Iranian Filmmakers A Result Of Iran-West Tensions

The arrests of Iranian filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof, Mostafa Al-Ahmad, and Jafar Panahi are being blamed on the tensions between the Iranian government and the West.

Mohammad Rasoulof
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The recent arrests of Iranian directors Mohammad Rasoulof, Mostafa Al-Ahmad, and Jafar Panahi - all of whom have been locked up in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison are a result of mounting tensions between the government of Irans President Ebrahim Raisi and the West, reports Variety.

Syrian multi-hyphenate Orwa Nyrabia, chair of the Berlin-based International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR), who is in close contact with the detained directors, said in a statement accessed by Variety: "The government in Iran is sending a message to all of us around the world saying, 'Things are getting worse', and this appears to be part of the nuclear deal negotiations and the geopolitical repercussions of what's happening after the Russian invasion of Ukraine."

Talks to revive Tehran's 2015 nuclear accord with world powers have ground to a halt partly due to the fact that Russia is balking, since lifting sanctions could free up millions of barrels of Tehran's crude oil stocks for global consumption, giving Russia less leverage as a major oil and gas supplier to the world, political analysts say.

Variety further states that along with the dissident filmmakers, Iranian authorities last week arrested reformist politician, Mostafa Tajzadeh, who has been critical of the government. Several foreigners have also landed in an Iranian prison in recent weeks, including two French citizens, a Swedish tourist, and a Polish scientist, the Associated Press has reported, prompting concerns that Iran is trying to leverage all these arrests as bargaining chips in the negotiations.

Nyrabia, who also heads the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), points out that Iran's ongoing crackdown on its film community also comprises internationally known Iranian doc directors Mina Keshavarz ('The Art of Living in Danger') and Firouzeh Khosravani ('Radiograph of a Family'), both arrested in their Tehran homes in May and subsequently released on bail but banned from traveling, despite no charges being filed.

He notes that over the years when the West and Iran were at loggerheads, "these (directors) were the people who were breaking the barrier and making everyone in the world connect with Iranian culture and find empathy and identification with the people and society in Iran".

[With Inputs from IANS]

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