Iranian actress Marziah Vafamehr has been sentenced to a year in prison and 90 lashes for appearing in the 2009 Australian film My Tehran For Sale without the headscarf that is mandated by for women by Iranian law. Deadline, via the opposition website Kalameh.com reports that the actress has been imprisoned since July.
In a sad case of life-imitating-art, the film is about an Iranian actress who is banned by the government from appearing on stage. The movie also depicts Iranian youths engaging in such illegal activities as going to underground raves, smoking hash and engaging in premarital sex.
It appears that the official reason being given for Vafamehr’s arrest is the allegation that the film was shot in the Iranian capital without the proper permits, a charge that both the film’s production company Cyan Films and Vafamehr’s husband, Iranian filmmaker Nasser Taghvai, deny.
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has stated the Australian government was “deeply concerned” about Vafamehr’s arrest while Cyan Films has issued a statement expressing that they were “deeply shocked and appalled” by the sentence. Producers Kate Croser and Julie Ryan also stated, “We continue to offer our support to Marzieh and her family by respecting their wishes to let the case and the appeal follow the proper legal channels.”
Vafamehr’s lawyer has reportedly filed an appeal following yesterday’s conviction.
Cyan Films stated that the film was never intended to be distributed in Iran and it was only when it started to become popular on the black market that Vafamehr came to the government’s attention.
I suppose living in a country with a clear legal separation between Church and State makes it hard to fathom this story. But unfortunately, there are many countries where filmmakers find themselves in trouble with their governments for the art they create.
Earlier this week, Islamic protestors tried to burn down a Tunisian television station that aired the Oscar-nominated animated feature Persepolis, which is about a young girl growing up during the Iranian revolution.
Here’s the trailer for the film in question –