Jafar Panahi, whose drama CrimsonGold won top honours at the ChicagoFilm Festival last week, has dedicated his award to the Iranian Nobel PeacePrize winner Shirin Ebadi.

In an open letter publishedin Iranian newspapers, Panahi, whose previous credits include The Circle,The White Balloon and Mirror, wrote: "The news of your winning the Noble PeacePrize put an end to the frustration and despair we have all felt in our road todemocracy and freedom in Iran.

"We will definitely see theconsequences of your victory in the near future. I would like to proudlydedicate the Gold Hugo award, presented to Crimson Gold at the Chicago Film Festival, to you in appreciationof your efforts for human rights in our country."

Crimson Gold won the Un Certain Regard Jury Award at Cannesearlier this year and tells the tale of a pizza deliveryman who becomesincreasingly disturbed by the gulf between his humble world and Tehran'swealthy elite.

Crimson Gold will be released in the US through Wellspring inFebruary 2004.