Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof gassed in a prison fire in Iran

Panahi’s wife says her husband experienced “the worst hours of his life” when Evin prison burned on Saturday, but confirmed both political prisoners are alive.

3 FACES, (a.k.a. THREE FACES, a.k.a. SE ROKH), Jafar Panahi, 2018. © Kino Lorber Films / courtesy Everett Collection

Jafar Panahi in “Three Faces”

©Kino International / Everett Collection

A deadly fire broke out Saturday night at Evin prison, a facility in Tehran that houses Iranian political prisoners. The fire killed four occupants and injured others. Security forces reportedly used brutal tactics such as tear gas and sonic bombs to hold prisoners in during the chaos.

Two of the facility’s most well-known inmates are filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, who were jailed for criticizing the Iranian government. Rasoulof was arrested in July after a series of provocative posts on social media. This led to Panahi visiting a prison to inquire about his fellow filmmaker’s conviction, only to be arrested and sentenced to six years in prison.

In a new interview with Radio Farda, Radio Free Europe’s Iranian affiliate, Panahi’s wife Tahira Saeedi spoke about what the filmmakers endured during the fire. She revealed she was able to speak to her husband early Sunday morning, where he confirmed tear gas had been used on him and that the fire marked “the worst hours of his life”. Despite the trauma suffered, Saeedi described Panahi and Rasoulof’s physical health as “good”.

Panahi has refused to let the incarceration silence his voice. As his latest film No Bears premiered at the New York Film Festival this month, the filmmaker addressed the crowd with a statement from actress Mina Kavani.

“We are filmmakers,” he said in the statement. “We are part of Iranian cinema. For us, life means creating. We create works that are not commissioned. That is why those in power see us as criminals. Independent cinema reflects its own time. It draws inspiration from society. And can not be indifferent to him. The history of Iranian cinema has witnessed the constant and active presence of independent directors who have struggled to roll back censorship and ensure the survival of this art. Along the way, some received film bans, others were forced into exile or forced into isolation. And yet the hope of creating again is a reason for being. No matter where, when, or under what circumstances, an independent filmmaker creates or contemplates creation. We are filmmakers, independent.”

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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/10/jafar-panahi-and-mohammad-rasoulof-tear-gassed-in-iran-prison-fire-1234772987/ Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof gassed in a prison fire in Iran

Lindsay Lowe

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