Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi has penned an open letter to the Academy of Motion Pictures, requesting the Academy defend the civil rights of his country’s people.
The letter comes after the death of 22-year-old Mehsa Amini, who died in custody, allegedly by police brutality, after her arrest for not wearing her hijab in accordance with government standards.
Ghobadi’s letter reads:
To the Academy of Motion Pictures,
As one of the members of your prestigious Academy, it would be great if you passed this message along to all of the other Academy members:
“My name is Bahman Ghobadi, one of your fellow members. You have certainly heard about what has been happening in Iran. The Iranian regime recently killed a young woman named Mahsa Amini for not wearing her headscarf “properly.”
“The Iranian people have gone to the streets to protest against the regime. We, my people and I, need your support to spread this news and to stand by the Iranian people and their rightful protests. We need your support more than ever. Please help us spread the word.”
Other filmmakers adding their names to protests include Shirin Neshat, Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Pegah Ahangarani, Abdolreza Kahani, Ali Abbasi, Kaveh Farnam, Farzad Pak, Ali Ahmadzadeh.
The European Film Academy has responded. The Academy’s chairman, Irish producer/novelist Mike Downey said:
“The European Film Academy stands in full support of the Iranian film makers protesting against the current wave suppression spreading throughout Iran. There have been running battles between Iranian police and anti-government protesters in Tehran in the worst unrest there for years.
“The film industry and documentarians are being fearless in their attempts to record the crackdowns. Iran is now subject to the most severe internet restrictions seen since mass anti-government erupted in November 2019. We abhor censorship in all its forms and fully support Iranian film makers fighting for survival in a climate of terrible repression.”
Police reported that Amini went into heart failure at a station and died after two days in a coma. Eyewitnesses and women who were detailed at the same time said she was severely beaten. Amini’s death resulted in a series of large-scale protests across the country which brought international attention.