Iran continues to lash out at film industry

An Iranian court in Tehran yesterday confirmed film director Jafar Panahi’s sentence to six years in jail, and a twenty-year ban on filmmaking. Charges against the award-winning director were summarised by state media as, “[…] acting against national security and propaganda against the regime”.

2007 file photo of Jafar Panahi. Image: Cines del Sur Granada Film Festival.

In September, before the original sentence was handed down, Panahi lamented, “[w]hen a film-maker does not make films it is as if he is jailed. Even when he is freed from the small jail, he finds himself wandering in a larger jail”. With the ban now in-place, the filmmaker’s This is not a Film, which premièred at Canne Film festival, may be his last work for two decades. The handheld-shot documentary covers Panahi’ struggle with censorship whilst being prosecuted.

Panahi’s is the second high-profile case this week; actress Marzieh Vafamehr was sentenced to 90 lashes and one year in jail for starring in the controversial Australian-produced film My Tehran For Sale, directed by Iranian-Australian Granaz Moussavi. The film is about a young Tehrani actress whose work is banned by the government.

Iranian commentators heavily criticised the film, which is being distributed illegally in Iran, and in July Vafamehr was arrested. Producers Julie Ryan and Kate Croser state they “did not set out to produce a political film.” Stressing, “[w]e definitely didn’t set out to make a film that criticised the government”. The role played by Vafemehr shows her with a shaved head, and without a hijab.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd’s office issued a statement condemning Vafemehr’s sentence.

Leaked cables cause Australian concern

Leaked diplomatic cables between Australia and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, have raised alert from the Australian Government after claims that they may affect relations with China. The documents were released by the whistle-blowing website, Wikileaks. The cables between the then prime minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, and the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, revealed that China may be forced for integration into the international community. The secret documents also contained information of a conversation between Clinton and Rudd in Washington. In the interview, Rudd stated that China was “paranoid” about Taiwan and Tibet.

Kevin Michael Rudd, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Former Prime Minister of Australia.

The sensitive documents may place a strain on diplomatic relations between Australia and China. Despite this, Kevin Rudd reassured the public that the “robust” relationship between Australia and China wouldn’t sustain any substantial damage to the relations between the two countries.

At the heart of the leaks is Australian founder, Julian Assange. Wikileaks have now released 821 of their promised 251,287 US diplomatic cables. The cables are being released on a stage-by-stage basis. Earlier this week, Assange was arrested on suspicion of rape in London under a Swedish arrest warrant.

Australia warned US to prepare to use force in China

Former Australian leader Kevin Rudd told the United States it should be prepared to use force in China “if everything goes wrong”, a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks reveals.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with Australian leader Kevin Rudd (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool)

In wide-ranging talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rudd also described Chinese leaders as “paranoid” about Taiwan and Tibet and said his push for a new Asia-Pacific body was designed to contain Chinese influence.

The memo detailing a March 2009 lunch conversation between Rudd, who was then prime minister, and Clinton in Washington states that the Australian leader described himself a “brutal realist on China”.

It said Rudd, a Mandarin-speaking former diplomat who was once posted to Beijing, argued for “multilateral engagement with bilateral vigour” in China.

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