Iranian filmmaker wins EU’s Sakharov Prize
Iranian filmmaker and activist Jafar Panahi has been awarded this weekend with the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Panahi was praised for his opposition against the Iranian regime through his humanist films on life in Iran.Panahi shares the prize with Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian lawyer and human rights advocate who is currently serving a six-year sentence in jail. According to Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, the decision to award the two Irianian activists was an unanimous one and is intended to ‘send a message of solidarity and recognition’.Panahi biographyJafar Panahi was born in 1960 and studied at the College of Cinema and Television in Tehran. His first feature film - the White Balloon - was released in 1995 and won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. More recently, Panahi was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival for his work ‘The Circle’ (2000). This film critizes the position of women under the Iranian regime. Other films Panahi made include ‘Crimson Gold’ ‘The Mirror’ and ‘Offside’. He also appeared as a jury member at several film festivals.In 2010, the Iranian regime placed Panahi under house arrest charged with making anti-government propaganda. He is banned from filmmaking, travelling and any political activity for the next two decades.The Human Rights Film Network congratulates both Panahi and Sotoudeh with their prize.BackgroundThe Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is an initiative of the European Parliament. It is intended to honour individuals or organisations who fight for human rights and freedom of expression.The prize is named after Andrei Sakharov, a Russian physicist in the mid-twentieth century, and has been awarded annually since 1988. It is accompanied by a reward of 50.000 euro. Previously, the prize has been won by Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi.