Iranian Filmmaker Mani Haghighi Barred From Leaving Iran To Attend London Film Festival

Iranian filmmaker Mani Haghighi will no longer attend the London Film Festival premiere of his latest film Subtraction after authorities stopped him from boarding a flight to London. 

A spokesperson for the BFI London Film Festival told Deadline that Haghighi was turned away at the airport by Iranian authorities and his passport was confiscated. 

“He has returned to his home in Tehran. We understand that no reason has been given to Mani Haghighi for the confiscation,” the statement continued. “The BFI London Film Festival supports Haghighi and all filmmakers in their freedom to make their films and present them around the world.” 

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The spokesperson added: “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.”

Haghighi traveled to Toronto for the world premiere of Subtraction in September. Billed as a surreal comedy, the film follows a married couple who believe they have met their doppelgangers in Tehran.

This latest action from the Iranian authorities, however, comes after weeks of protests following the death of Mahsa Amini who died in police custody on September 16. Amini died three days after she was arrested for wearing her hijab too loosely. Iranian authorities say she died of a heart attack. Eyewitnesses and people who were detained with the young woman say she was badly beaten. The girl’s father has said his daughter had no underlying health problems.

Iranian authorities have been following through with threats to “deal” with celebrities publicly voicing support for the wave of anti-government protests. Posts on social networks as well as amateur blog sites run by Iranians reported Friday that popular Iranian singer Shervin Hajipour had been taken into custody in Tehran in relation to a ballad he wrote in response to Amini’s death.

Entitled “For,” the song is composed of angry anti-government tweets posted by Iranians after news of Amini’s death on September 16 broke. Other well-known figures detained include soccer star Hossein Mahini, while actress Katayoon Riyahi, one of the first cinema personalities to voice support for the protests, is reportedly on the run after police raided her house in her absence.

The government has also targeted non-state broadcasters and the internet, prompting French satellite operator Eutelsat to put out a statement on Thursday that its satellites had been jammed from within Iran.

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