Panahi at the Venice Film Fest?

There is good and not so good news from Iran.

On the one hand the great director Jafar Panahi, released on parole last May after three months held in jail for his opposition to the regime, now might be allowed to attend the Venice Film Festival in September. There he will present his short film "The Accordion,"  which, according to an article on "The Independent" website, "recounts the adventures of two young street musicians who can no longer play after an incident." Hm. Could this be an allegory about a certain filmmaker's difficulties?  About the film Panahi says, "'I'm a director who pays attention to social aspects and what's happening around me ... "The Accordion" shows my feelings about what's happening and how I see reality.'" 

You might remember that Panahi's attendance at last year's Montreal Film Festival, where he engaged in a quiet demonstration against the then recent, disputed Iranian election, got him in trouble in the first place. Will he speak up again in Venice? Also, when will the Iranians let him start making full length features? (His last one, "Offside," came out in 2006).

Okay, so much for the good news. On the other hand, there are a few developments in the country that aren't so auspicious. Like the 20 year prison sentences handed out to leaders of the Bahai faith.

Or the mass graves that members of the Revolutionary Guard are digging in anticipation of all the Americans they hope to kill in fighting an anticipated invasion.

Well, I can't end on such a down note. So here's a picture of a monkey saving a puppy from an explosion in Nanjing, China.

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