An appeals court has sentenced Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi to one year in prison on charges of “insulting the sacred” and “spreading propaganda against the regime,” reducing his initial sentence of six years ‘ imprisonment.

Keywan Karimi, 30, said on Monday, February 22 that his prison sentence was reduced to one year, but he is still to receive 223 lashes as stipulated in the original sentence.

“I have no intention of leaving the country and I shall service the sentence,” he said, as quoted by the Times of India. “Even when I am in prison, I will make films.”

After almost two years of hearings, Karimi was found guilty on the propaganda and insult charges in connection with his documentary about political graffiti in Tehran, Writing on the City.  The film, which according to his lawyer had not been publicly screened, looks at how graffiti has changed in Tehran in recent years, particularly in response to political and social events.

Karimi was also sentenced to receive lashes as punishment for having “illicit relations” because he shook hands with a woman to whom he was not related.

The filmmaker, who is from a Kurdish background, began filmmaking at a young age. He has a degree in media studies from the University of Tehran and has so far produced 12 films, as well as contributing to a number of photography projects.

Some of his films look at the situation for Kurdish people living on the border between Iran and Iraq.  One documentary, The Broken Border, was awarded best short documentary at the Beirut International Film Festival in 2013. The film looks at the lives of people affected by the fuel smuggling trade between Iran and Iraq, and about the wildlife in the area.  

Karimi is one of dozens of Iranian journalists, poets and artists arrested or sentenced to prison in what appears to be a preventive crackdown on free expression to Friday’s elections for parliament and the powerful Assembly of Experts, which will choose the next supreme leader. 


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