Film Fest Gent supports Iranian cry for freedom
Last night at Film Fest Gent, Ali Abbasi's film Holy Spider premiered in the presence of lead actors Zar Amir-Ebrahimi and Mehdi Bajestani. The films depicts the true events of a serial killer in Iran who became a hero to a part of the population after - and because - he killed 16 sex workers. In the very emotional Q&A after the screening, Zar Amir-Ebrahimi expressed her anger towards the violent repression of the Iranian people, and Iranian women in particular.
"We are talking about a true revolution going on. Men and women are fighting alongside each other on the frontlines. Women are standing up for their fundamental rights and men have joined them. This is about more than the hijab, this is about freedom."
In 2009, there were already major protests in Iran. Back then, people took to the streets to question the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Amir-Ebrahimi: "In 2009, the protest were about 'where is my vote?' and the demand for a referendum, but now people are questioning the entire system. In 2019 it was more about the economic situation, now it is the entire regime that people want gone. The Iranian people are now fighting for their long-lost freedom. We cannot but move forward, there is no turning back."
Iran has been in turmoil for weeks since the death of Mahsa Amini who was arrested for not wearing her headscarf correctly. Subsequent protests and cries for basic rights have been crushed answered with excessive and senseless violence by the Iranian authorities. Film Fest Gent wants to express its support for Iranian citizens peacefully fighting for their rights. The festival is also deeply concerned about the suppression of creative, critical voices like that of Zar Amir-Ebrahimi, who has been banned from entering Iran. Earlier this year, filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof were arrested. They are currently being held in the Evin prison, where a major fire broke out on Saturday night.
Film Fest Gent endorses the Iranian call for freedom and the demand to listen to the voices of the men and women who are asking for change.