x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Pahani's new movie shown at Berlin International Film Festival

A new film from the dissident Iranian director Jafar Panahi premiered at this week's Berlin International Film Festival.

A new movie by the Iranian director Jafar Panahi, which defies a ban on filmmaking and reflects his frustration at being unable to work officially, made its debut at the Berlin International Film Festival on Tuesday.

Closed Curtain is co-directed by Panahi and his fellow Iranian filmmaker and friend, Kamboziya Partovi. Panahi was sentenced to house arrest and a 20-year filmmaking ban in 2010 after being convicted of making propaganda movies against Iran's state.

Partovi presented the movie at the Berlin festival, where it's one of 19 competing for the Golden Bear, to be awarded on Saturday.

The new film, made by a very small team, was shot entirely inside an isolated seaside villa, much of the time with the curtains drawn. The two directors are the lead actors: Partovi as an increasingly paranoid man trapped in the house as police search the area, and Panahi as the director of that story. Scenes with the curtains open were "shot at the very end so we didn't get into trouble", Partovi said.

The German government says it asked Iran to allow Panahi to travel to Berlin for the premiere; there has been no word on any response. "It's very difficult not to work … you become depressed," Partovi told reporters. "For him, it became very difficult just to sit around at home."

He added that he didn't know what consequences, if any, making the film might have.

"Nothing has happened up to now," he said. "But we don't know what the future holds in store for us." * AP