Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Filmmaking Is Muzzled in Iran and in the United States": French Newspaper Compares Polanski's Case with That of Jailed Iranian Dissident Director

Free Panahi and Polanski! shouts Franck Nouchi in Le Monde. At the Cannes Film Festival this May, an empty chair has been visible among the seated jury members throughout the festival, symbolizing the absence of jury member Jafar Panahi, the Iranian film director who is probably in a Tehran jail — for having made a documentary on Iran's post-electoral events.

But there is another major director missing in the Cannes seaside resort, adds Franck Nouchi (Roman Polanski is still held in his chalet in Switzerland, after all). And the conclusion, for the Le Monde writer — the very same who couldn't bring himself to say that the Soviet Union was behind of the Katyn massacre — is that
In Iran and in the United States, for reasons which admittedly are totally different, film-making is thus muzzled. … if today, Panahi and Polanski's freedom is so shackled today, it is because of what they are: first-rate artists.
That's right: the reason that Panahi is muzzled (in a Tehran jail) is because he is a first-rate artist. And the reason that Polanski is muzzled (in a Swiss chalet) is because he is a first-rate artist!

To their credit, several Le Monde readers denounce the article (using repeatedly, among others, the expressions false "amalgam" and "simplifications"), with one reader stating that "Mélanger la prison d'Evin à Théhéran où on peut craindre le pire et celle du chalet de Gstaad en Suisse, me paraît une 'offense' à Jafar Panahi." and another reacting thus:
Il faut être bourré de mépris et de certitudes pour comparer quelqu'un condamné dans une dictature pour avoir osé s'exprimer, et quelqu'un à qui une démocratie reproche d'avoir abusé de son statut pour s'envoyer des petites filles. Utiliser l'un pour dédouaner l'autre est scandaleux, et sera inefficace.

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