Filmmakers offer support to Iranian actress in My Tehran for Sale
Australian filmmakers have offered their support to Iranian actress, Marzieh Vafamehr, who has been sentenced to one year in prison and ninety lashes for her role in the film My Tehran for Sale.
The charges against Vafamehr, who was originally arrested in July of this year, remain unclear but the film’s Australian producers, Julie Ryan and Kate Croser of Cyan Films, believe they relate to scenes in which the actress appears with a shaved head and no headscarf.
My Tehran for Sale, which won the 2009 IF Independent Spirit Award, tells the story of Marzieh (Vafamehr), an actress struggling under her country's controls over artistic expression. The government has banned her work, and her romance with an Iranian-Australian expat (Amir Chegini) leads her to consider life outside Iran.
“We would like to express our deep shock and sadness at the sentence imposed by the Iranian government against actress Marzieh Vafamehr and 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,” Croser and Ryan said in a statement.
The producers also emphasised that Vafamehr’s involvement in the film was limited to her role as an actress and that she had no input in any of the behind-the-scenes creative.
My Tehran for Sale has never received an official Iranian release, nor was one ever intended, and its dissemination on the black market in the country has been outside Cyan Films' control.
The film’s director, Granaz Moussavi, said: “The accusations against Marzieh have no grounds. All the documentation has been provided to the Iranian court to show that permits were in place for the production of the film.”
Richard Harris, chief executive of the South Australian Film Corporation (which provided funding to the film along with the Adelaide Film Festival) said the corporation will do everything within its power to assist in securing Vafamehr’s freedom.
Outgoing Adelaide Film Festival director Katrina Sedgwick said they felt shocked and distressed and hope the appeal process will revoke this very harsh sentence.
"This terrible situation highlights the important artistic freedom we have in this country and reinforces how important it is that we continue to value strong artistic voices in all societies,” she said in a statement.
The World Movies channel on Foxtel and Austar will re-screen My Tehran For Sale on Wednesday, October 19, at 6:50pm.