The Denver Film Society (DFS), presenter of the Starz Denver Film Festival (SDFF), is joining the growing global protest condemning the arrests and imprisonment of Iranian filmmakers and calling for their immediate, unconditional release.
Five documentary directors - Hadi Afarideh, Shahnam Bazdar, Naser Saffarian, Mohsen Shahrnazdar and Mojtaba Mir Tahmasb, along with producer and distributor, Katayoun Shahabi, were arrested on Sept. 17 and continue to be held in Evin Prison in Tehran.
DFS and the SDFF have a decades-long history of supporting Iranian filmmakers and their work, including the 12-film Focus on Iranian Cinema at the 2010 festival. This year's festival, which kicks off Nov. 2, will also feature several Iranian works, including a screening of One. Two. One., a feature narrative distributed by Katayoun Shahabi, the founder and director of Sheherazad Media International (SMI), one of the most prominent distributors of Iranian films and a long-time participant and friend to the SDFF.
"Katayoun has played an important role in the promotion of Iranian cinema across the world," said DFS Co-Founder Ron Henderson who has maintained personal contact with Shahabi and other Iranian filmmakers throughout the past decade. "We look forward to using our Festival to bring awareness to our diverse audience base about the efforts of the Iranian government to stifle the free speech and voices of these incredibly talented film artists and dedicated distributors."
SDFF organizers will share correspondence from Mania Akbari, the director of One. Two. One, who dedicated her film's Denver screenings to Katayoun Shahabi, and urged the release of ll imprisoned filmmakers. "These are people being held solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression or for contacts with foreign media, particularly the BBC," said Britta Erickson, Festival Director.
SDFF Artistic Director Brit Withey has once again programmed several films that will share stories of events in Iran and the human rights environment. Programmed pieces for the upcoming SDFF 34 include: Ali Samadi Ahadi's The Green Wave, screening in competition for the Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary, and Good Bye, Mohammad Rasoulofs follow-up to his SDFF 33 Krzysztof Kieslowski Best Feature Film-winning The White Meadows.
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