Jafar Panahi Travel Ban Lifted, Iranian Auteur Leaves Iran For Undisclosed Location For First Time in 14 Years

Dissident Iranian director Jafar Panahi’s travel ban has suddenly been lifted after 14 years, allowing the acclaimed auteur and his wife Tahereh Saeedi to reportedly leave Iran for an undisclosed location.

Saeedi on Tuesday night posted a picture on Instagram showing her arriving with her husband at an undisclosed airport.

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It is captioned: “After 14 years, Jafar’s ban was cancelled and finally we are going to travel together for a few days…”

Panahi, 62, was temporarily released from prison last month after going on a hunger strike to protest “the illegal and inhumane behavior” of Iran’s judiciary. He was out on bail.

The director was arrested last July in Tehran in the wake of the country’s conservative government crackdown. Panahi had gone to the Tehran’s prosecutor’s office to follow up on the situation of fellow dissident filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulov, who had been incarcerated a few days earlier after signing an appeal against police violence. He was arrested there and put behind bars on the spot.

Panahi is considered one of Iranian cinema’s greatest living masters. He is known globally for prizewinning works such as “The Circle,” “Offside,” “This is Not a Film,” “Taxi,” and most recently “No Bears,” winner of last year’s Venice’s Special Jury Prize.

There was no immediate comment from Panahi’s family or from his French distributor, Celluloid Dreams, who has been campaigning on behalf of the director with the international film community.

The lifting of Panahi’s travel ban by Iranian authorities is a clear signal to the outside world that Iran is, at least cosmetically, changing its course amid escalating tensions following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September 2022 while she was held in custody for allegedly wearing a loose hijab.

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