Jafar Panahi is a filmmaker from Iran who has been invited to the Venice Days in order to present his short movie “The Accordion” and to take part in a debate with us, the 27 members of the young jury. Although Jafar Panahi is not anymore in prison in Iran, he could not come to the festival because the Iranian government forbid him to leave the country. Instead of Panahi, a good friend of him and also an Iranian film maker, Mazdak Taebi, visited the Festival. He adressed some words to the audience before The Accordion was shown and he took part in our discussion, too.
The topic of the debate was: freedom of expression and censorship.
Obviously, Mazdak Taebi with his political background and knowledge of the Iranian filmmakers situation was a very interesting person to discuss this topic with. Mazdak reported about the situation of censorship and freedom of expression in his home country. In Iran today, a political system is in charge, that c the freedom of expression in various ways. Jafar Panahi`s faith is the best example. As already mentioned, he recently was imprisoned for his work and although he can now move in Iran, Mazdak Taebi stated, he is now mentally imprisoned, because he is forbidden to make films. This is censorship in the clearest facon. Mazdak Taebi says: “Film has to go through ideology”. And in the case of Iran, it is the religious islamic ideology a creative has to be conform with in order to be able to publish his art.
Though for Mazdak it is important to point out that, yes, there is a religiously driven government in charge at the moment, but the government behaviour and its supression is not representativ for the population´s will. Censorship through ideological forces have always existed in human history and at the moment this happens in Iran. Mazdak Taebi is confident that this phase will pass by... sooner or later.