I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…
A clue to why so much of the Middle East and North Africa is on political fire might be the kind of criminals the politicians like to throw in jail.
Filmmaker Jafar Panahi is two months into a six-year term in an Iranian prison. His crime was “colluding in gathering and making propaganda against the regime.” In other words, he makes movies Iran President (and really tough film critic) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad doesn’t care for.
Mr. Panahi is a director, editor, and writer who has won 25 major film awards (and seven nominations which inexplicably didn’t win), including the Camera d’Or at Cannes (for his directorial debut with The White Balloon), and the Golden Lion at Venice (for The Circle). He’s also directed The Mirror, Crimson Gold, and Offside, for which most major film critics who aren’t also dictators have offered spectacular acclaim. As part of his sentence, Mr. Panahi better not be making any more award-winning or acclaimed films (or any films) for the next 20 years.
The upside of this story is that Iran is likely to be one of the next Middle Eastern regimes whose film audience will rise in revolt to depose its Movie Critic-in-Chief. They’ve already got a pretty good director there for the soon-to-be-released documentary.