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At the recent San Francisco International Film Festival (April 19-May 3),
artistic director Peter Scarlet moderated a roundtable on Iranian cinema.
The panel included the co-producer of MARAL who lives in Iran (but whose
name escapes me), Behrouz Vossoughi (the "De Niro of Iranian cinema" now
living in the U.S.) and Sussan Deyhim (composer, SHIRIN NESHAT UNVEILED),
among others. Scarlet was outraged by Jafar Panahi's detainment and
fingerprinting in New York while en route from Hong Kong to the Buenos
Aires and later to the San Francisco and Los Angeles Film Festivals. He
emphasized a point not mentioned in Panahi's letter: The State Department
has traditionally WAIVED such transit visas and fingerprinting for artists,
including those entering the country from Iran. Panahi was not
fingerprinted upon entering the US last September for the New York Film
Festival, nor in March when he went to Washington, D.C., for a tribute in
his honor. Therefore, Panahi found this newly instituted policy (Scarlet
points his finger at the Bush administration) particularly humiliating and
refused to be fingerprinted.

Susan Tavernetti

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