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Politics

Iranian Filmmaker Blocked From Travelling to the London Film Festival

October 17, 2022
Akhtar Safi
2 min read
"I was prevented by the Iranian authorities from boarding my flight to London on Friday," Mani Haghighi said in a video message tweeted by the festival organizers, the British Film Institute.
"I was prevented by the Iranian authorities from boarding my flight to London on Friday," Mani Haghighi said in a video message tweeted by the festival organizers, the British Film Institute.

A well-known Iranian filmmaker says officials stopped him travelling to the London Film Festival because of his support for the continuing anti-government protests. 

"I was prevented by the Iranian authorities from boarding my flight to London on Friday," Mani Haghighi said in a video message tweeted by the festival organizers, the British Film Institute.

"They gave me no reasonable explanation for this actually rude behaviour," he said. 

The BFI said Haghighi had been due to attend to show his latest film "Subtraction", but the Iranian authorities "confiscated his passport and he could not leave."

In a video message to festival-goers, the 53-year-old Iranian director, writer and actor said he believed the authorities had prevented him from going abroad over his support for the Amini protest movement.

"A couple of weeks ago I recorded an Instagram video in which I criticised Iran's mandatory hijab laws and the crackdown on the youth who are protesting it and so many other instances of injustice in their lives.

"Perhaps the authorities thought by keeping me here they could keep a closer eye on me, perhaps to threaten me and shut me up.

"Well the very fact that I'm talking to you now in this video kind of undermines that plan," he said.

Haghighi said he felt Iranian authorities wanted to punish him by keeping him in internal exile in his own country. But, he said, that tactic had failed spectacularly, as it gave him the chance to observe the protests rocking the country.

"I cannot put into words the joy and the honour of being able to witness first-hand this great moment in history and I would rather be here than anywhere else right now,” he added. 

“If this is a punishment, by all means, bring it on!”

Haghighi is one of a growing number of celebrities who have faced recriminations from the authorities after speaking out in support of the popular protests. Footballers and other athletes have voiced their support through their social media accounts, many of them with millions of followers. This has posed a challenge to the Islamic Republic, whose officials are blaming them for "fanning the flames of the riots".

The head of Iran's judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, declared that those who became famous "thanks to the support" of the Islamic Republic have "joined the enemy."

The new wave of public anger was flared by the death last month in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who had been arrested by the morality police in Tehran for not wearing her hijab in a “proper” manner.

Iran’s government insists Amini was not mistreated, but video showed she was arrested forcefully and her family says her body showed bruises and other signs of beating. 

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