Iran’s Jafar Panahi to head Montreal filmfest jury

August 20, 2009

TEHRAN -- Controversial Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi will lead the jury of the 33rd Montreal World Film Festival (MWFF), scheduled to be held from August 27 to September 7.

MWFF president Serge Losique said the appointment fits the festival’s long history of championing Iranian cinema, Screen Daily reported on Tuesday.
World-renowned Iranian director Majid Majidi’s “The Children of Heaven” (1997), “The Color of Paradise” (1999), and “Baran” (2001) have each won the festival’s top award.
Japanese actor-turned-director Eiji Okuda, Quebec actor-producer David La Haye, Spanish writer-director Fernando Méndez-Leite Serrano, French director Pascal Thomas, French film composer Reinhardt Wagner, and Diane Demers are also on the jury.
“The First Film”, a film by Panahi’s son, Panah, and four other Iranian films will go on screen at the MWFF’s First Films World Competition.
------Panahi’s credits
Panahi rose to fame with “The White Balloon”, “Circle”, “Crimson Gold”, and “Offside”, none of which, except “The White Balloon”, were allowed to be screened in Iran.
He had previously worked as assistant director for several films by Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami.
“The White Balloon”, “The Circle” and “Offside” won the Cannes Camera d’Or. Panahi was also awarded a Silver Bear at Berlinale for “Offside”, which was his most controversial film.
Focusing on the ban on Iranian women’s presence at football stadiums, “Offside” was never granted a screening license after its premiere in 2006 at the Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran.
Although the film premiered in several countries, Iranians didn’t get to see it until it was pirated.
Photo: Jafar Panahi poses with the Silver Berlin Bear he won for “Offside” at the 56th Berlin International Film Festival during the festival’s closing ceremony on February 18, 2006.