Mani Haghighi Banned From Leaving Iran

Filmmaker Mani Haghighi had his passport revoked en path to the London Movie Pageant. Talking from Tehran, he explains to IndieWire why he anticipated repercussions.

In July, Iran arrested three filmmakers for talking out in opposition to police violence and the persecution of girls within the nation, together with outstanding administrators Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof. Now, a 3rd veteran Iranian filmmaker is dealing with repercussions for talking out, as “Subtraction” director Mani Haghighi advised IndieWire that his passport was confiscated on the Tehran Worldwide Airport on Thursday whereas he was en path to the BFI London Movie Pageant. He was prevented from boarding his flight and returned residence.

“I assumed this was going to occur,” he mentioned in a voice memo on Thursday shortly after he was knowledgeable of the choice. “It’s simply their try to intimidate us. The extra noise we make, the much less profitable that plan will probably be.”

A spokesperson for the BFI London Movie Pageant advised IndieWire that the competition was conscious of the state of affairs. “We perceive that no motive has been given to Mani Haghighi for the confiscation,” the spokesperson mentioned. “The BFI London Movie Pageant helps Haghighi and all filmmakers of their freedom to make their movies and current them world wide.” Earlier this week, the competition hosted “a second of solidarity and reflection” to assist “imprisoned Iranian filmmakers and the courageous ladies of Iran who’re difficult for his or her freedom.”

In early September, Haghighi attended the Toronto Worldwide Movie Pageant for the world premiere of “Subtraction,” the surreal story of a married couple in Tehran who come throughout their doppelgängers. This week, he deliberate to journey to London for the worldwide premiere. On the airport on Thursday, he was advised he couldn’t depart the nation. Although he has but to be supplied with a motive, Haghighi mentioned that he suspects the choice is a direct response to an Instagram submit protesting police violence across the nation.

Violence initially escalated within the metropolis after outcry over corruption associated to the collapse of a constructing within the area. Nonetheless, stress with the federal government has exacerbated a lot additional since then, when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police custody after she was arrested for allegedly sporting her scarf too loosely on September 13. The incident sparked nationwide protests to hijab legal guidelines, with many ladies across the nation burning hijabs at public protests.

These actions have gained worldwide consideration and a condemnation of police motion in opposition to unfastened hijabs by the United Nations. On September 27, Hagighi posted an Instagram video in response to the federal government crackdown that has been considered over 20 million occasions. That was why, Haghighi advised IndieWire, he had no drawback touring to Toronto although he had beforehand expressed solidarity with the protests in Abadan. “Shit hadn’t hit the fan but,” he mentioned.

In his Instagram submit, Haghigi criticized the federal government for trying to stifle protests. “I see contradiction and sophistry on this demand,” he mentioned in Farsi. “It’s true that individuals ought to be subordinate to the rule of legislation, however solely when lawmakers are themselves subordinate to the folks.” Addressing the federal government immediately, he added: “You, so pleased with your pathetic masculinity, may need to hearken to their protests, settle for their calls for, and look out for them as you’d look out on your personal youngsters, as a substitute of letting them be assaulted with batons and bullets, and have their corpses delivered to their households who’re then pressured to bury them at night time, in secret.”

As arrests accelerated over the summer time, the nation’s Supreme Chief Ali Khamenei delivered an ominous speech that appeared to name for the tough torture and interrogation strategies that dominated the Iran-Iraq conflict of the Eighties. “The god of the Eighties continues to be the identical god,” he mentioned.

“Subtraction”

The acceleration of governmental backlash in opposition to public figures has been widespread. Earlier this week, soccer star Ali Daei had his passport revoked by Iranian authorities after he demanded on social media that the federal government “clear up the issues of the Iranian folks slightly than utilizing repression, violence, and arrests.” The passport was returned two days later after the choice gained media consideration.

Others who confronted comparable repercussions for talking out embrace fellow soccer participant Bayern Munich, singer Homayoun Sharjarian, his spouse and actor Sahar Dolatshahi, and filmmaker Mehran Modiri. Knowledgeable of Haghighi’s conundrum, Iranian movie scholar Jamsheed Akrami mentioned he wasn’t stunned. “It’s a really tough state of affairs proper now,” he mentioned. “The federal government has resorted to its intimidation ways within the worst means.”

A reminder of the circumstances in Iran arrived within the U.S. this previous week with the New York Movie Pageant screening of Panahi’s “No Bears,” with actress Mina Kavani studying an announcement from the incarcerated director. “We create works that aren’t commissioned,” Panahi mentioned in his assertion. “Due to this fact, these in energy see us as criminals. Unbiased cinema displays its personal occasions. It attracts inspiration from society. And can’t be detached to it. The historical past of Iranian cinema witnesses the fixed and lively presence of impartial administrators who’ve struggled to push again censorship and to make sure the survival of this artwork.”

In the meantime, Iranian-born filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour (“A Woman Walks Dwelling Alone at Evening”) has been posting always to her Instagram to lift consciousness concerning the protests. “These lovely women must be protected by your voice,” she wrote this week.

Chatting with IndieWire concerning the arrests of Panahi and his friends in July, Hagighi defined his choice to talk out whereas in post-production for his new film, regardless of the dangers. “I’m simply extremely pissed off,” he mentioned. “It’s time to do one thing.”

Haghighi is an internationally acclaimed filmmaker who has been making films for over 20 years. His credit embrace 2016’s “A Dragon Arrives” and 2018’s “Pig,” each of which premiered on the Berlin Worldwide Movie Pageant. He additionally served as a co-writer on Asghar Farhadi’s “Fireworks Wednesday” and acted in his early hit “About Elly.”

In anticipation of potential journey points, Hagighi recorded a video message that may run forward of the three sold-out screenings for “Subtraction” scheduled for this weekend. “I’m very sorry I’m unable to be there with you tonight,” he mentioned within the video, shared with IndieWire. “Maybe the authorities thought that by retaining me right here they may preserve a better eye on me, maybe to threaten me and shut me up. Properly, the actual fact that I’m speaking to you on this video proper now undermines that plan.”

He described his state of affairs as “an exile in reverse.” To that finish, he added, he was galvanized by the protests across the nation. “Being right here in Tehran proper now is likely one of the biggest joys of my life,” he mentioned. “I can’t put into the phrases the enjoyment and the dignity of with the ability to witness firsthand this nice second in historical past. I might slightly be right here than anyplace else on the planet proper now. If this can be a punishment for what I’ve finished, then by all means, deliver it on.”

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