Hollywood calls for release of Iran filmmakers

Panahi is still under house arrest

LOS ANGELES - Hollywood has expressed concern about Iran's crackdown on directors and actors and called on Tehran to release filmmakers detained last month.
"The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is deeply concerned whenever and wherever the rights of filmmakers are threatened," the group said in a statement Wednesday signed by several movie-making guilds.
"The recent arrest of six Iranian filmmakers, the sentence of 'one year in jail and 90 lashes' to an actress just for playing a role in an acclaimed film, and the continued house arrest of Jafar Panahi, among others, is a situation that demands our serious attention," it said.
"We join our colleagues around the world in calling unequivocally for these filmmakers' safety, release, and return to filmmaking."
Iran has reportedly released two of six Iranian filmmakers arrested last month on accusations of working for the BBC Farsi-language service.
In a separate case, a Tehran appeals court recently upheld a six-year jail sentence and 20-year filmmaking and travel ban against international award-winning Iranian director Panahi, his family said on Saturday.
Panahi, 51, was convicted last December over a documentary he tried to make about the unrest that followed the disputed 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
More than a dozen directors or actors have been arrested and sometimes received harsh sentences in recent months for "propaganda" against the regime, including several documentary makers accused of giving a "black image" of Iran.
Earlier this month, Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr was jailed for a year and sentenced to 90 lashes for her role in the Australian-produced film "My Tehran for Sale," about the limits imposed on artists in the Islamic republic.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences -- which awards the Oscars each year -- represents over 6,000 artists in 35 countries.
The statement was co-signed by the American Cinema Editors, the American Society of Cinematographers, the Directors Guild of America, the International Documentary Association, the Producers Guild of America, the Screen Actors Guild, and the West and East Writers Guilds of America.