Germany's Berlin film festival condemned what it called the "shocking" sentencing of Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, as the movies that will take part in this year's main competition were announced, including a number of Arabic short movies.
Germany's Berlinal, scheduled to be held from Feb. 10 – 20, will open with the movie True Grit (2010), starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon and directed by Joel Ethan Coen. It is a re-production of another 1969 movie with the same title.
Berlinale chief Dieter Kosslick said the festival, which had recently invited Iranian director Panahi to be part of its jury, is "concerned and filled with indignation."
Panahi, who has won awards at the Chicago, Cannes and Berlin film festivals, has been sentenced to six years in jail on charges of working against the ruling system.
Panahi was also banned from filmmaking or writing dramatic scripts for a period of 20 years, in addition to being banned from travelling abroad or holding any contacts with foreign media.
Panahi, 49, has been held in the notorious Evin prison since March 1, when he was detained by Iranian authorities, reportedly because he was making a film about the disputed 2009 presidential election. He was released on bail in May when he started a hunger-strike.
Meanwhile, the short movie Sabeel, directed by UAE filmmaker Khaled al-Mahmoud, will take part in the Berlinal's Generation competition. The movie was awarded the Best Short movie award at the New York Film Festival.
Among the Arabic movies taking part in the international event, is the short movie al-Mukhtar, directed by Swiss (Moroccan-born) filmmaker Halima Wardeggi. The theme of the movie is based on a folkloric tale.