Marzieh Vafamehr, an Iranian actress, has been condamned to one year in prison and 90 lashes for her role in “My Tehran for Sale” – a film about the limits imposed on artists in the Islamic republic.
The movie came under harsh criticism in conservative circles and Marzieh Vafamehr was arrested in July. Marzieh Vafamehr was held at the Gharchak prison until the investigation was completed. Her lawyer has appealed the sentence, which was handed down Saturday.
Marzieh Vafamehr is married to Nasser Taghavi, a prominent Iranian film director and writer. After the arrest, Taghavi said the charges against his wife were nonpolitical and were related to the film “My Tehran for Sale.”
“How can the judge investigate such a case when the most important people involved in this film are no longer in Iran?” Taghavi said.
The film was jointly funded by the South Australian Film Corporation and the Adelaide Film Festival.
Kate Croser, the Australian co-producer of the film, said the company offered assistance to Marzieh Vafamehr‘s family. Vafamehr’s family had requested a Western media blackout of the case after her arrest.
“There is an appeal which could be lengthy and the family may still believe that public comment will be unhelpful because they are going through all the official channels,” Croser said.
The film tells the story of a young actress in Tehran whose theater work is banned by the authorities. She is then forced to lead a secret life in order to express herself artistically, eventually meeting an expat who helps her plot her escape from Iran. The film also showed subversive footage of Iranians at Western-style rave parties.
The Fars news agency said the movie had not been approved for screening in Iran and was being distributed in the country illegally.
“We can say the charges were that there was no permit for filming, which is not true, and that in some scenes Marzieh was not wearing a hijab and had a shaved head,” Croser said.
Marzieh Vafamehr was released in late July after posting unspecified bail.
Iran also arrested six independent filmmakers last month on charges of collaborating with the BBC. Two of them, Naser Saffarian and Mohsen Shahrnazdar, who were accused of providing the BBC’s Farsi foreign language service with information, films and secret reports to paint “a black picture of Iran and Iranians,” were released Saturday.
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