Cannes he make it?


Celebrity watchers at the Cannes Film Festival opening got a little anxious because jury member Kate Beckinsale arrived a little late due to the Icelandic volcano ash cloud. Not so much concern for the non-appearance of honorary jury member, filmmaker Jafar Panahi, held up by the bars of Evin prison in Tehran since last March 1 for the crime of asserting basic human rights in a paranoid, intolerant theocratic tyranny. None that will appear in any "ET" or similarly in depth reportage on the festival, at any rate.

But jury president Tim Burton did speak up yesterday at a press conference,  noting Panahi's absence and observing at a news conference "All of us are for freedom of expression. We fight for that every day and in our lives. So of course one should be free to express oneself." Also, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said in a joint statement: "We call for his immediate release and we ask the Tehran authorities to respect the fundamental right of freedom of expression and creativity for the Iranians."

Add to that a petition released recently demanding Panahi's release signed by a bunch of Hollywood heavyweights including Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, a petition from Amnesty International,  and a statement from yet another critics group, The International Society of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) -- of which I'm a member -- and you've got to ask yourself, what's wrong with these people?  What can they gain in their delusional search for security that could possibly make up for the loss of face they will receive in the world community for this behavior? Don't they realize that the only thing most citizens of the world still respect Iran for is the brilliance of their filmmakers?


Is Ahmadinejad trying to make Kim Jong Il look sane by comparison?

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