Dissident Iranian director Jafar Panahi is reported to have left Iran for the first time in 14 years following the lifting of a travel ban imposed on him in 2009.
Panahi’s wife Tahereh Saeedi posted a picture on Instagram on Tuesday night showing her arriving with her husband at an undisclosed airport.
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It was cryptically captioned: “After 14 years, Jafar’s ban was cancelled and finally we are going to travel together for a few days…”
Panahi is seen waving and pushing a luggage trolley laden with three large suitcases.
There is no information on where the picture was taken although there have been suggestions on social media that the backdrop is a French airport.
Panahi – whose credits include The White Balloon, The Circle and Taxi – has spent most of his filmmaking career in the crosshairs of Iran’s authoritarian Islamic Republic government.
The director has not been able to leave Iran since 2009 after stoking its ire for attending the funeral of a student shot dead in the Green Revolution and his later attempt to shoot a feature set against the backdrop of the uprising.
In 2010, he was given a six-year suspended prison sentence as well as a 20-year filmmaking and travel ban In December 2010, for “making propaganda against the system”.
Working around the filmmaking ban, Panahi managed to direct six films nonetheless spanning This Is Not A Film, Closed Curtain, Taxi, Three Faces and No Bears.
The reported trip comes two months after Panahi was released from Tehran’s notorious Evin jail following his arrest in July alongside filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad amid a government crackdown on the country’s artists and freedom of expression.
During his time inside, the “Woman Life Freedom” protests broke out in Iran in September following the death of a 22-year Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the country’s morality police for not wearing her hijab correctly.
Many Iranians believe the women-led movement heralds an era of change for the country after the 44-year draconian rule of the Islamic Republic government although it remains to be seen how the regime will ultimately deal with the uprising.
Deadline has reached out to sources for confirmation of the report that Panahi has been allowed to travel internationally.
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