Mahnaz Mohammadi: “I am a woman, I am a film-maker, two sufficient reasons to be guilty in Iran.”
On June 26th, internationally celebrated filmmaker Mahnaz Mohammadi was arrested Iran –her native country– and taken to Evin Prison, which is notorious for its political prisoners’ wing. Mohammadi was taken from her home and is currently being denied access to her family or legal representation.
The thirty-seven year old artist was supposed to attend the Cannes Film Festival this year; however, her passport was confiscated in May. Before her arrest, Mohammadi delivered a message to Cannes which was read aloud by Greek filmmaker Costa-Gavras. Her message states “The struggle of woman for their identity is an essential element of their everyday life… and freedom is the word that is most missing from their daily life.”
Mohammadi’s films center around sensitive Iranian issues. Her short documentary Women Without Shadows, for example, followed the occupants of a state-run shelter for homeless and abandoned women. Another documentary, Travelogue, discusses Iranian emigration and shows a train which departs daily for Istanbul filled with passengers and returns to Tehran empty. Several of her films, including The Soul’s Children, have been banned in Iran.
Footage filmed by Mahnaz Mohammadi. Music by Iranian rapper Salome.
While Mohammadi’s arrest remains unreported by Iranian state media, several groups are calling for her release, including the French Director’s Guild which has launched an online petition.
Mahnaz Mohammadi’s arrest comes in the middle of a massive crackdown by the Iranian government. Earlier this month photojournalist Maryam Majd was arrested before boarding a flight to Germany where she was intended to cover the Women’s World Cup.