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