Iran Prevents Filmmaker From Traveling To London Film Festival

By RFE/RL's Radio Farda

An Iranian filmmaker said Iranian authorities barred him from traveling to the London Film Festival over his support for the protests sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini.

"I was prevented by the Iranian authorities from boarding my flight to London on [October 14]," Mani Haghighi said in a video message posted on Twitter by the British Film Institute (BFI). "They gave me no reasonable explanation for this actually rude behavior."

Outrage over Amini's death on September 16, three days after she was arrested by Tehran’s morality police, has triggered the biggest wave of street protests and violence seen in the country for years.

In the past weeks, many Iranians have taken part in antiestablishment protests in Tehran and other cities, where protesters have chanted “Death to the dictator!” and, “Woman. Life. Freedom.”

Security forces have responded with force, killing dozens of protesters, according to rights groups, while also arresting artists, dissidents, journalists and sports stars.

The BFI said Haghighi had been due to attend the London Film Festival for his latest film Subtraction but that Iranian authorities had "confiscated his passport and he could not leave.”

In the video message, the 53-year-old Iranian director, writer, and actor said he believed the authorities had prevented him from going abroad over his support for the protests.

"A couple of weeks ago, I recorded an Instagram video in which I criticized Iran's mandatory hijab laws and the crackdown on the youth who are protesting it and so many other instances of injustice in their lives," he said. "Perhaps the authorities thought by keeping me here they could keep a closer eye on me, perhaps to threaten me and shut me up.

"Well, the very fact that I'm talking to you now in this video kind of undermines that plan," he added.

Haghighi said, however, that he had no regrets about being forced to stay in Iran as a "prisoner" in his own country.

"I cannot put into words the joy and the honor of being able to witness first-hand this great moment in history, and I would rather be here than anywhere else right now,” he said. "So, if this is a punishment for what I've done, then by all means, bring it on."

With reporting by AFP