Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 00:36 am (KSA) 21:36 pm (GMT)

Award-winning filmmaker Panahi arrested in Iran

Panahi posing with his "Jury Grand Prix" silver bear at the 56th Berlinale Film Festival (File)
Panahi posing with his "Jury Grand Prix" silver bear at the 56th Berlinale Film Festival (File)

Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, a vocal backer of the opposition movement, was arrested along with his family and guests during a raid on his Tehran home, his son said on Tuesday.

"About 10 on Monday evening, several plainclothes agents broke into the house," Panah Panahi told Rahesabz opposition website.

Panahi, his wife and daughter as well as 15 guests were arrested and taken to an unknown location, the son said, adding that the security agents had searched the house and confiscated personal belongings and computers.

 About 10 on Monday evening, several plainclothes agents broke into the house 
Panah Panahi, son of Jafar Pahani

An arthouse favorite, Panahi, 49, is known for his gritty socially-critical movies such as the "Circle", winner of the 2000 Venice Golden Lion award, "Crimson Gold" and "Offside", which bagged the 2006 Silver Bear at the Berlin film festival.

He was briefly detained in summer with his family after attending a memorial at Tehran cemetery for slain protester Neda Agha Soltan and banned from leaving the country in February to attend the Berlin film festival.

Many Iranian artists, facing tough censorship under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, backed his rival Mir Hossein Mousavi in the June election, which the opposition charged was rigged to keep the hardliner in power.

Panahi's travel ban came after he appeared wearing green and openly backing the anti-government opposition at the Montreal film festival, where he was on the jury.

Despite his international success, most of Panahi's films have been banned from Iranian theatres reportedly for portraying a dark picture of Iranian society.

He has not made any features since "Offside," which challenged Iran's ban on woman spectators at football games by sending a group of young women disguised as men to the stadium.

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