Panahi had been invited to serve on Berlinale jury before his conviction; Rafi Pitts plans global protest in support of Panahi during Berlinale.

Next month’s Berlinale will show solidarity with the imprisoned Iranian director Jafar Panahi by showing a number of his films and organising a discussion on censorship and the restriction of freedom of opinion and expression in Iran.

On Dec 6, Panahi had been publicly invited to serve on this year’s Berlinale jury, but in late December he and filmmaking collaborator Mohammed Rasoulof were both sentenced to six years in prison and banned from making films, making political statements, doing media interviews or travelling abroad for 20 years.

Panahi’s Silver Bear winner Offside, which was in the Berlinale competition in 2006, will be shown at the Berlinale Palast on Friday, Feb 11 at 16.30, and other films will be scheduled by the festival as special screenings on the following days in the Panorama, Forum, Generation and Berlinale Shorts sections.

Generation’s section head Maryanne Redpath told ScreenDaily that her section will be showing The White Balloon, which the Berlinale’s Kinderfilmfest had previously shown in 1996.

In addition, the Berlinale Talent Campus and the World Cinema Fund’s panel discussion will be held at the Campus’ main venue, HAU1, on Feb 17. Paris-based Iranian director and actor Rafi Pitts, whose latest feature The Hunter was in the Berlinale’s competition last year, has already confirmed that he will be coming to Berlin. The participation of other filmmakers and artists living in exile as well as of prominent Berlinale guests will be announced soon.

Last Friday, Pitts had given an interview to the German daily newspaper Die Welt, announcing that he is planning a global protest in support of Panahi for Feb 11, the day of the 32nd anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

“All the people working with film should down tools around the world for two hours: at film shoots, in cinemas, in film schools, at festivals, “ Pitts said. “According to Central European Time that would be between 12.30 and 14.30. Two hours are really that much when I compare this with the 20 years ban on following their profession for Panahi and his director colleague Mohamad Rasoulof. It is about having a symbolic effect.”

Also today, the San Sebastian Film Festival joined the international outcry against Panahi and Rasoulof’s sentencing to six years of prison. “As a platform for the screening of films made the world over, San Sebastian Festival considers this deplorable occurrence to be an extremely serious assault on freedom of expression and on the individual rights of both filmmakers,” said a statement by the Spanish festival, which has previously shown Panahi’s The Circle and Rasoulof’s The White Meadows.