Jafar Panahi may be stuck in an Iranian prison, but his film is playing in Afghanistan.
The popular Iranian neo-realist filmmaker was sentenced to six years last December for his alleged role in protesting his country’s contested 2009 presidential election. Panahi’s films are banned at home, but one – “Accordion,” an insightful short about two young buskers who have their accordion confiscated, only to find their oppressor trying to earn money with it – made its way across the border for Afghanistan’s inaugural Autumn Human Rights Film Festival in Kabul on October 1.
The festival, Afghan filmmakers hope, will become an annual showcase for films that are suppressed elsewhere around the region. “Though there are 33 human rights film festivals worldwide, there are none in this region. Bahrain was supposed to have one, but it was cancelled following the protests [in the spring] there,” festival director and filmmaker Malek Shafi’i told EurasiaNet.org.
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Aunohita Mojumdar is an Indian freelance journalist based in Kabul.