Cannes Film Festival condemns arrest of Iranian actor Taraneh

Organisers of the Cannes Film Festival on Monday demanded the immediate release of Iranian actor Taraneh Alidoosti, who was arrested over the weekend by local authorities on charges of spreading falsehoods about the ongoing nationwide protests.
Taraneh Alidoosti
Taraneh Alidoosti

LONDON: Organisers of the Cannes Film Festival on Monday demanded the immediate release of Iranian actor Taraneh Alidoosti, who was arrested over the weekend by local authorities on charges of spreading falsehoods about the ongoing nationwide protests.

In a statement shared on its official Twitter page, the prestigious film gala extended ''full support'' to the 38-year-old actor as it condemned her arrest by the Iranian government.

''The Iranian actress #TaranehAlidoosti was arrested Saturday 17 December as a result of her support for the movement for freedom in her country. The @Festival_Cannes strongly condemns this arrest and demands her immediate release,'' the Cannes Film Festival said in a tweet using the hashtag '#FreeTaranehAlidoosti'.

Alidoosti, star of Asghar Farhadi's Oscar-winning movie ''The Salesman'', was taken into custody on Saturday, a week after she made a post on Instagram expressing solidarity with the first man recently executed for crimes allegedly committed during the protests.

In May, the actor attended the 75th edition of the prestigious European film extravaganza to present her film ''Leila's Brothers''. Directed by Saeed Roustayi, the Iranian drama was selected to compete for the festival's top honour, Palme d'Or.

''The favorite actress of Ashgar Farhadi, #TaranehAlidoosti was at #Cannes2022 for her role in Saeed Roustayi's 'Leila's Brothers'. In solidarity with the peaceful struggle she is carrying out for freedom and women's rights, the @Festival_Cannes extends their full support to her,'' the Cannes Film Festival said in a subsequent post on the microblogging site.

According to the report published on the state media's official Telegram channel, the actor was arrested because she did not provide ''any documents in line with her claims''.

In her post, Alidoosti said: ''His name was Mohsen Shekari. Every international organisation who is watching this bloodshed and not taking action, is a disgrace to humanity.'' Shekari was executed on December 9 after being charged by an Iranian court with blocking a street in Tehran and attacking a member of the country's security forces with a machete.

Last month, two other famous actors Hengameh Ghaziani and Katayoun Riahi were arrested by authorities for expressing solidarity with protesters on social media. They were later released.

Alidoosti's Instagram account, which she used to openly express solidarity with protesters, has been suspended. The actor has found support in industry colleagues like Iranian-French actor Golshifteh Farahani (''The Patient Stone''), Cameron Bailey, head of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and British actor of Iranian origin Nazanin Boniadi of ''The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power'' fame. ''The brave actress of Iran got arrested,'' Farahani wrote on Instagram.

Bailey said he hopes the actor is released soon.

''Taraneh Alidoosti is one of Iran's most talented and acclaimed actors. We were proud to screen her latest film, Subtraction at TIFF22. I hope she’s free to keep representing the strength of Iranian cinema soon,'' he tweeted.

Boniadi said Alidoosti was arrested for ''posting a photo of herself without compulsory hijab in solidarity with the protestors''.

Iran has been hit by protests since the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Amini was detained in September by Iran's morality police, who said she didn't properly cover her hair with the mandatory Islamic headscarf hijab. She collapsed at a police station and died three days later.

Her death set off protests in dozens of cities across the country and the government has responded with a fierce crackdown.

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