Marzieh Vafamehr, the Iranian actress who last year was jailed and sentenced to ninety lashes, has been freed.
Vafamehr was arrested for her involvement in the film My Tehran For Sale, a film about an Iranian actress who is persecuted by the government for her work. In July, life imitated art when Vafamehr was jailed and later sentenced to corporal punishment. Earlier this month, her sentence was shortened to three months and no lashes, and this week she was released.
My Tehran For Sale was made with financial assistance from an Australian production company, and premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival two years ago. On hearing of Vafamehr’s arrest, the festival’s director Katrina Sedgwick said that it made her all the more grateful for the freedom of expression she enjoys in Australia, and that so many artists are denied. “It certainly makes one very aware of the amazing freedom that we have and the rights that we have in Australia, and we can never take them for granted,” she told the ABC. “It also reminds one of the amazing courage of artists around the world working in places where they do take risks.”
Amnesty International says that while this week’s development is an encouraging one, those who work in Iran’s film industry and who produce potentially controversial content do so at great risk to their freedom and even their lives. “In recent months an increasing number of filmmakers and actors have been targeted for persecution in Iran,” said Amnesty official Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
Take a look at the trailer for My Tehran For Sale: