Award-winning Iranian filmmaker could face 6-yr jail term – Syrian opposition filmmaker ‘stabbed in Istanbul’

PARIS, Oct 11, (Agencies): An award-winning Iranian director accused by authorities in his homeland of anti-regime propaganda could face up to six years in jail, his film distribution company said Tuesday.

Mohammad Rasoulof, who was jailed on similar charges in 2010, had his passport confiscated at Tehran airport on Sept 15 and was told to report to the prosecutor’s office.

The director was returning to Iran after screening his latest film at the Telluride Film Festival in the United States.

According to his French distribution company ARP Selection, Rasoulof was “interviewed extensively” on Oct 3 by Iranian intelligence officers and was charged with activities against national security and propaganda against the regime.

ARP said the director is due to be questioned further on the charges which carry up to six years in jail.

Rasoulof was jailed in 2010 for six years for a documentary about protests that followed the disputed re-election of then Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the previous year.

He was banned from making films for 20 years, but his jail sentence was reduced to one year on appeal.

The director’s 2017 film “A Man of Integrity” won the top prize in the “Un Certain Regard” section at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. He is due to promote it in France in December.

The film is about a man working on a goldfish farm in northern Iran who becomes caught up in corrupt ties between local leaders and businessmen.

Since receiving the award, Rasoulof had twice entered Iran without problems, Farnam said.

In 2011 while he was still in jail, Rasoulof took best director in the same competition in Cannes for “Goodbye”.


ISTANBUL: A Syrian filmmaker close to the opposition who made a film about a notorious regime prison has been stabbed by an unknown assailant in Istanbul, supporters and Syrian groups said Wednesday.

Muhammad Bayazid was stabbed on Tuesday while on his way to a meeting, according to an account posted on the filmmaker’s official Facebook page by a friend who witnessed the attack.

His wife Samah Safi Bayazid, who is also a filmmaker, confirmed the attack, describing it on her Facebook page as an “assassination attempt”. He was taken to hospital but his condition was not immediately clear.

Ahmad Ramadan, an official with the Syrian opposition in Istanbul, said Bayazid had produced a film about torture in a notorious Syrian prison.

He also described the attack as an “assassination attempt”.

Syrian opposition activists and journalists based in Turkey have repeatedly complained of threats to their security.

A veteran Syrian opposition activist and her journalist daughter were found stabbed to death at their apartment in Istanbul in September. However, a relative was later arrested on suspicion of the murder.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif: Tala Ashe is thrilled to debut her new character, a Muslim-American superhero joining season three of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.” It’s a particularly poignant moment for the Iranian-born, Ohio-reared actress who described the hardship of portraying stereotypical characters in the past.

“I have been part of projects where it is not dealt with sensitively or accurately and it’s incredibly painful. It’s incredibly painful,” said Ashe in an interview while promoting The CW series during the Television Critics Association summer meeting.

One of Ashe’s first breaks was on a soap opera. She took the role to pay the bills, but said she would never agree to the part now.

“It’s still actually painful for me to talk about because I, it was such a stereotype,” she recalled. “I try not to berate myself for taking it because I understand the reasons that I did. But I would never, I would never say ‘yes’ to something like that now. … Going through that experience taught me the power of saying ‘no’ and saying like, ‘Actually I’m not OK with that.’ And if that’s all there is out there for me then it’s OK. I’ll go work in a law firm pouring coffee. I’d rather do that then to be part of promoting that stereotype.”

Her experience playing Zari, a computer-hacking superhero in “Legends,” which returns Tuesday, could not be more different.

“What is great is (her ethnicity) is an aspect of who she is, as much as she’s an activist and she’s a strong woman and someone who speaks truth to power,” Ashe said. “It’s really important that we have representation in the media and specifically we have Muslim-American representation that isn’t just positive in a sort of rosy, un-nuanced way, but is a real person. And there’s so much of the other right now and there’s so much making Muslims ‘the other’ that I’m excited to play this character in what I hope will be a very nuanced and sensitive, accurate way.”

Ashe was particularly impressed when showrunners brought in a Muslim-American writer to help craft her role and hopes that kind of inclusivity will spread throughout Hollywood.

“I do think there are more stories being told. I think more stories can be championed both in theater and in television and certainly in movies. I think we have a long way to go in terms of representation in movies. But I think TV is doing kind of the best job in terms of realizing that we need to reflect our world and that it matters,” she said.

Ashe aims to be a positive role model for young fans and perhaps break down a few stereotypes along the way.

“I’m excited to see what the reaction is and if it can make someone feel a little less alone or — here’s the big hope — if it can change a mind,” she said.

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