“Egypt Was The Firewall”

A former American ambassador to Morocco, Marc Ginsberg, talking on TV today about the miraculous revolution won in the streets of Cairo and throughout Egypt, predicted that this was the beginning of momentous change in the Middle East.  And while no one can say if the conflagration that is going to roar through the region now that the firewall has been breached, will be peaceful and produce democracies that serve each nations’ people, watching the jubilation  in Tahrir Square, I can’t help but feel hopeful.

Iran’s pro-democracy Green Movement is planning demonstrations across the country on Monday for the Iranian people to stand in solidarity with the people of Egypt and Tunisia.

Whether new demonstrations in Iran will lead to, among other results, the overturning of the six-year prison sentence (and 20-year ban from filmmaking) imposed on the great director Jafar Panahi is impossible to know.

But again hopeful, I agree with Jamsheed Akrami, a United States-based Iranian film scholar, who often translates for Panahi, that the strategy of trying to silence filmmakers (Mohammad Rasoulof was also sentenced to six years) will backfire. “This may have an immediate chilling effect, but I don’t think it’ll work in the long run.”

And the verdict against the two filmmakers, currently out on bail, can be changed by a ruling from a higher appellate court.

Asia Society will present a film series dedicated to Jafar Panahi, running from February 25 through March 11.


Jafar Panahi

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