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May 2001, Week 1


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"Shari L. Rosenblum" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 7 May 2001 00:19:49 EDT
text/plain (67 lines)
Seth Johnson offers:
>You targetted everything except the one substantive point he presented,
>as an explicit frame for his narrative:
>They wouldn't let him make a phone call,

His account states the opposite.  Although not on his terms or within the 
frame he demanded, he was in fact able to call Dr. Jamsheed Akrami, an
Iranian film professor at Columbia University, and to tell him his whole 
story, unimpeded and uncensored -- or he certainly would have told us 

> and he says he was assured that
>the papers were in order before he undertook his flight.  By his
>account, he went through a good deal of effort checking whether he
>needed a "transit visa."

I addressed this point explicitly.  Mr. Panahi makes clear that he never 
with any official source what the requirements were for entry into the U.S.
Instead, he asks us to believe him justified in relying on what he represents 
as the assurances of film festival staff and foreign  personnel of United 
Airlines, whom, by his own account, he asked at the Hong Kong airport. 

 >While he drags in all of humanity, the fundamental frame for his account
>is constituted by the above points, which are reasonable demonstrations
>of at least futility and perhaps impracticality in the way he and the
>rest of the lot he was thrown among were being treated.

I submit that, by his own account, neither his stated expectation
nor his sense of entitlement meets the standards of reasonableness.
He claims to have entered the country without proper documentation,
from a nation listed with the country's terrorist watch, and to have refused
repeatedly to comply with the identification standards for entry.

Moreover, as I referenced previously, the issue of entry requirements for the
U.S., including fingerprints and photographs, is a hot political issue in 
Middle Eastern circles -- and Mr. Panahi's objection to the requirements on 
the ground that he was targeted for his nationality does much to suggest that 
he is among these circles, and not, as his protests of attempted compliance
imply, an unsuspecting victim of unexpected demands.

>This is on the basis of his account, of course.  But while he certainly
>does play on his award and the standing of his "cinematic gifts," that's
>only a straw man in your critique, given that he framed his account in
>terms of having thought he had clearance and not being able to settle
>matters with a phone call.

A straw man in my critique would be something I put in so that I could 
knock it down.  In this case, it was Mr. Panahi who framed his account
around his cinematic gifts.  While I reference them in passing, focusing 
rather on the issue of U.S. immigration and entry standards, Mr. Panahi 
comes back to them time and time again: he argues that his invitations
to the film festival should have stood as evidence that he was entitled 
to entry; he says he called a film professor to speak on his behalf  (and
not, by his account, to arrange for any sort of legal counsel); and he 
addresses his "open letter" invitation to protest to colleagues in the film 
world who have honored him for his talents.

Shari L. Rosenblum

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