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Iranian actress set free from jail

27 October 2011

Detained Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr has been set free from jail following international pressure for her release.

Shargh, the most popular reformist newspaper in Iran, reported her release yesterday (Wednesday 26 October).

She had spent three and half months in custody for her role in the film My Tehran for Sale. Marzieh had received a preliminary sentence of one year in prison and 90 lashes for acting in the film.

Equity general secretary Christine Payne expressed her thanks to Equity members and the wider arts community for campaigning for her release.

“We had a tremendous response from our members,” she said. “The online petition set up by our sister union in Australia was inundated by people wanting to share their outrage at this unjust treatment of a fellow artist. Although the release of Marzieh is tremendous news, Equity remains concerned about a number of other artists who remain in jail.”

 Variety reported on 17 October that several Iranian films have been suddenly pulled from the Beirut Film Festival. The Lebanese government is led by Shiite group Hezbollah, a key ally of Iran, and pulling the films prompted local media to accuse Iran of putting political pressure on the organisers of the festival.

Iran's latest crackdown comes after Iranian director Mojtaba Mirtahmasb had his passport confiscated in September en route to Toronto with This Is Not a Film, which he co-directed with Jafar Panahi, who has been banned by the Iranian authorities from directing and producing for 20 years.

Variety reports that Iran has released Naser Safarian, Mohsen Shahrnazdar and Hadi Afarideh, three of six Iranian filmmakers arrested in September on accusations of working for the BBC Farsi-language service, but the fate of their fellow filmmakers Shahnam Bazdar, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Katayoun Shahabi is still unknown. Other members of Iran's film industry have also been arrested in recent years. Pegah Ahangarani, a popular actor was released from jail in July. Mohammad Rasoulof was also sentenced to six years in jail. Ramin Parchami, an actor who voiced support for the opposition, still remains in jail. There is also a petition for his release.

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