Kiarostami denounces detention of Iran film-maker Panahi

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Abbas Kiarostami, in Cannes to present his latest movie, called Tuesday for the release of fellow Iranian film-maker Jafar Panahi who is being held in a Tehran jail.

"The fact that a film-maker has been imprisoned is in itself intolerable," he said at a press conference after his "Certified Copy," starring French actress Juliette Binoche, was screened at the film festival here.

"If the Iranian government continues to refuse to release Jafar... then we need explanations because I can't understand how a film can be considered to be a crime particularly when that film has not yet been made," he said.

Panahi has been held in Tehran's notorious Evin prison since March 1, when he was detained reportedly for making a film about Iran's disputed 2009 presidential election.

"When a film-maker, an artist is imprisoned it is art as a whole that is attacked," said Kiarostami, who won the Palme d'Or top prize at Cannes in 1997 with "Taste of Cherry."

The Palme, for which Kiarostami's latest work is in the running, is to be awarded Sunday by a jury which Panahi had been invited to join.

The French government and the festival jury headed by US director Tim Burton have called for Panahi's release.

Kiarostami's own films are not screened in his native country.

© 2010 AFP

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