May 28, 2024

Dissident Iranian director Jafar Panahi has launched an impassioned appeal for production designer Leila Naghdipari to be released from jail following her recent arrest during demonstrations marking the one year anniversary of Mahsa Amini’s death.

Naghdipari was one of hundreds of Iranians arrested on Sept. 16 during widespread protests marking the anniversary of Amini’s death while being detained for allegedly violating the country’s hijab law that mandates covered hair.

“Today, Iranian independent cinema is more that ever struggling to breathe under the boots of the security forces,” Panahi said in his appeal.

Panahi added that it’s been more than 10 days since the arrest of Naghdipari, who was the production designer on his 2018 film “Three Faces,” a road trip through the repressive territory of patriarchal rural Iran. Panahi shot the film, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival, in violation of his 20-year filmmaking ban.

“All the efforts of her husband Majid Barzegar, filmmaker and producer, as well as other personalities from Iranian cinema, have been to no avail,” Panahi went on to note. He underlined that “Leila has asthma and an autoimmune disease that requires her to take medication every day, which she has not been allowed to receive for a week.”

“I’m worried about Leila and I’m worried about Iranian cinema,” the revered Iranian auteur concluded.

According to Radio Free Europe, Naghdipari is being held in the notoriously infernal Qarchak Varamin prison for women outside Tehran where health conditions are known to be very poor.

Panahi, who is considered one of Iranian cinema’s greatest living masters, is known globally for prizewinning works such as “The Circle,” “Offside,” “This Is Not a Film,” “Taxi,” and “No Bears.”

He was released from Tehran’s Evin prison in April after going on a hunger strike to protest “the illegal and inhumane behavior” of Iran’s judiciary. Panahi had been arrested in July 2022 in Tehran in the wake of the country’s current conservative government crackdown.

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