Iranian filmmaker stopped from going to the UK, Passport confiscatedtext_fields
London: Iranian filmmaker Mani Haghighi was stopped from boarding a flight to the UK His passport was confiscated by the Iranian authorities. His film 'Subtraction' is set to premiere at the BFI London Film Festival.
In a video statement, he said: "I am very sorry that I'm unable to be there with you tonight in the theatre. I was prevented by the Iranian authorities from boarding my flight to London on Friday. They gave me no reasonable explanation for this utterly rude behaviour."
He thinks his explicit support for the anti-hijab movement has angered the government. "I was wondering and asking myself, why would the Iranian regime want to prevent me, a filmmaker, from leaving my own country? And I came up with two theories. The first one is this: a couple of weeks ago, I recorded an Instagram video in which I criticised Iran's mandatory hijab laws and the crackdown on the youth who are protesting it and so many other incidents of injustice in their lives," he added.
The filmmaker thinks the authorities want to threaten him into silence. "Perhaps the authorities thought that 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 in this video right now kind of undermines that plan."
He further said the second theory is "this is an exile in reverse". Haghighi said the authorities are wrong because witnessing the greatest moments in history unfolding in Tehran is an honour to him.
"For them to make my own country and my own home an unbearable prison and to punish me by forcing me to stay in it as a prisoner, let me tell you that being here in Tehran right now, is one of the greatest joys of my life. I cannot put into words the joy and the honour of being able to witness first-hand this great moment in history. And I would rather be here than anywhere else in the world right now. So if this is a punishment for what I've done, then, by all means, bring it on," said the filmmaker.
After the incident, a BFI London Film Festival spokesperson issued a statement and said the event supports all filmmakers in their freedom to make films and present them around the world. "Earlier this week, in solidarity with imprisoned Iranian filmmakers and the brave women of Iran who are challenging for their freedom, BFI London Film Festival filmmakers and delegates joined Festival Director Tricia Tuttle in a moment of solidarity and reflection."