Banned and blacklisted Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi has found a movie home in America. After making the absolutely remarkable film This Is Not a Film, which he shot on an iPhone and smuggled out of Iran in a cake, Panahi has been invited to and accepted membership in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science.
Panahi has gain notoriety around the world for defying leadership in his country and defying the government in more than one way. The filmmaker is stoutly against the rule of dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and has used the medium of film to document life in Iran under his rule and as a way of rebelling against the system currently in place.
According to THR, Panahi has been struggling to get his movies out despite being an incredible talent as he and his fellow Irainians are being suppressed by the government.
The celebrated director of The White Balloon and The Circle has been subject to a 20-year government ban on travel and filmmaking in his country since the mass demonstrations in Tehran following the controversial 2009 presidential elections.
It’s an amazing triumph to see Panahi get the recognition he deserves, especially in today’s Hollywood system. With the slew of sequels, prequels, remakes and reboots being churned out today, we tend to forget that filmmaking is more about explosions and scantly clad men and women.
For Panahi, filmmaking is the only means he has to communicate the plight of Iran to the outside world and he has proven more than once in his career that making movies is an important and life-changing thing to do. Panahi’s life hasn’t been changed by being an independent filmmaker who is now a hit multi-million director. Rather his riches are coming from simply getting his movies out of his country and to the people of the world.