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The directors who are banned from attending the film
Gwilym Mumford; The Guardian Film
additional reporting by Saeed Kamali
Tue 8 May 2018
Jafar Panahi and Russian director Kirill
Serebrennikov – who both have films competing for the Palme
d’Or – have been prevented from leaving their respective
Two dissident directors
competing for the coveted Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes film festival will be
unable to attend the event, due to restrictions imposed by Russia and
Russian theatre and film director Kirill
Serebrennikov and Iranian film-maker Jafar
Panahi are unable to leave their respective countries as a result
of criminal charges that critics allege are politically influenced.
Cannes has pushed for both directors
to be allowed to travel to the festival, even going so far as asking for help
from the French government in getting Panahi to attend, but to no avail.
whose film Leto
appears in competition at the festival, has been under house arrest in Russia
since August on charges of corruption. A former artistic director of avant-garde
Moscow theatre the Gogol Center, he is accused of defrauding the state of 68
million rubles (£790,000) under the guise of funding for a non-profit stage
The director has received support from many leading Russian actors and
directors, who say the charges are aimed at discouraging dissent among Russia’s
artistic community. The European Film Academy has also
criticised the decision and has called for the Russian authorities to
“released immediately and unconditionally and to guarantee
his free movement and artistic expression”.
has been critical of the Kremlin in the past, denouncing Russia’s annexation of
Crimea and voicing support for the country’s threatened LGBT community.
|Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov at the
Cannes film festival in 2016. Photograph: Loic Venance/AFP/Getty
Speaking at a court hearing last month, the director denied the charges and
pointed to ticket sales and critical praise domestically and abroad as evidence
of Platforma’s success. Despite this, his house arrest was extended to 19
which was filmed before Serebrennikov’s
arrest, tells the story of the underground rock scene which, influenced by
western stars such as Led Zeppelin and David
Bowie, blossomed in the Soviet Union in the early 80s. It is the
director’s second film to screen at the festival, after 2016’s The
a prize winner at Cannes for his 1995 debut The
White Balloon, has been barred from leaving
Iran since 2010 after being found guilty of “colluding with the intention to
commit crimes against the country’s national security and propaganda against the
Sentenced to six years in prison, the director was initially placed under
house arrest. Though the terms of his sentence have since been loosened to allow
him to move freely within Iran, Panahi
remains subject to a 20-year ban on travelling abroad, speaking to the media and
writing or directing any films.
The film-making ban on Panahi
has done little to halt his output, however. Three
Faces, which premieres in competition at Cannes later this week,
is the director’s fourth film in seven years, with Panahi
using ingenious means to make and distribute his work. Both This
Is Not a Film, a 2011 documentary about his house arrest, and 2013
Curtain were shot secretly in his home, with the former smuggled to
Cannes on a USB flash drive hidden inside a cake. For his 2015 docufiction
effort Taxi Tehran, meanwhile, the director carried out a covert shoot in a taxi
cab, rigging it with hidden cameras and pretending to be its driver.
Three Faces tells the story of three actors at different stages of their
career in post-revolution Iran, and continues a preoccupation in Panahi’s work
with the restrictions placed on women in Iranian society. One of his previous films, the 2006 comedy Offside,
features a group of girls attempting to enter a stadium to
watch a world cup qualifying match. Women in Iran are still largely banned from
entering stadiums alongside male fans to watch matches.
Writing on Instagram last month, Panahi
expressed his continued hope that, despite the ban, his films would be screened
abroad. “My biggest wish as a film-maker is for my films to
be shown outside Iran, even in one cinema, in the farthest of
He added that the fact that this year’s official selection contains two films
by Iranian directors – the other being Asghar Farhadi’s Everybody Knows – was
proof that Iranian cinema remained “alive and dynamic”, despite restrictions
imposed by the state.
Lars von Trier
at the Cannes film festival in 2011. Photograph: Joel Ryan/AP
One director who will be able to attend this year’s festival is Lars von
Trier. The much-criticised Danish film-maker had been declared
persona non grata by Cannes for comments made at the 2011 festival where he
declared himself a Nazi and expressed sympathy for Adolf Hitler.
However, the festival board lifted Von Trier’s
ban last month, allowing the director’s latest effort The House
That Jack Built to be screened out of competition. The film, which
stars Matt Dillon and Uma Thurman, follows a spree of murders committed
by a serial killer over a 12-year period and has been described by Von
Trier as a celebration of “the idea that life is evil and
This year’s Cannes film festival begins on 8 May and runs until 19 May.
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