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Tehran punishes actress in Adelaide film. -

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Marzieh Vafamehr has reportedly been sentenced to one year in prison and 90 lashes for her role in
a film that is critical of Irani authority.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: A little-known arthouse movie produced for the Adelaide Film Festival is
causing grief for its Iranian lead actress. Marzieh Vafamehr has reportedly been sentenced to a
year's prison and 90 lashes for starring in My Tehran for Sale, which is critical of the Iranian

Even though the film was never released in Iran, the actress was arrested after pirated copies
appeared on the black market.

The Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd says Australia's concerned about the reports, as Mike Sexton

MIKE SEXTON, REPORTER: In her lead role in the film My Tehran for Sale, Marzieh Vafamehr plays an
actor in Tehran whose work is banned by the authorities, forcing her to lead a secret life before
eventually fleeing to Australia.

GRANAZ MOUSSAVI, WRITER/DIRECTOR (2009): This is a film about a woman who reaches a point where
she's prepared to put everything she's got for sale to change the situation, she thinks, for

MIKE SEXTON: Now in a cruel case of life imitating art, the film's been banned by authorities in
Tehran and the actor faces a year in prison and 90 lashes for her role in it.

ANDREW BESWICK, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: It seems to be the case that more recently filmmakers have
been particularly targeted and that goes along with the persecution that's been happening with
other people who speak out such as student activists or lawyers or other sorts of human rights

KATRINA SEDGWICK, ADELAIDE FILM FESTIVAL DIRECTOR: It seems quite extraordinary to me obviously
from the perspective of Australia. I mean, we have such a freedom in terms of our artistic
community to be able to explore all sorts of complex questions in all sorts of ways, and so
obviously it's very disturbing and difficult to understand when somebody is treated so harshly for
doing exactly that.

MIKE SEXTON: The film was part-funded by the South Australian Film Corporation for the Adelaide
Film Festival in 2009. It was written and directed by Granaz Moussavi, who migrated to Australia
from Iran in the 1990s.

GRANAZ MOUSSAVI: My hopes for Iran would be definitely having a better life for people, comfort,
their comfort and a free society where people can talk what they think, they wear what they want,
they drink and eat what they want. My hopes for Iran are really basic in a glorious way under this
umbrella of freedom.

MIKE SEXTON: That umbrella of freedom included filming a majority of the movie on location in

GRANAZ MOUSSAVI: I didn't do anything wrong in the film, according to the rules and regulations of
film-making in Iran. I tried to tell my stories, but I'm a filmmaker. My job as a filmmaker is to
deliver the stories in a way that are possible for that film industry to tolerate it.

MIKE SEXTON: That tolerance didn't run to screening the film in Iran, but the film's producers say
it wasn't meant to be released in that country.

But in July apparently after copies of My Tehran for Sale began appearing on the black market,
Marzieh Vafamehr was arrested. In a statement today, Granaz Moussavi said the accusations were
groundless and that documents were shown to the Iranian court that permits were in place for the
production of the film.

SIYAMAK GHAHREMAN, CHAIR, AUSTRALIAN-IRANIAN COMMUNITY: Granaz, who is the core producer of this
movie, is trying to do something in Australia against that sentencing and we are just hoping for
her to be successful with her appeal.

MIKE SEXTON: The film's producers say they believe the charges were laid in relation to scenes
where Marzieh Vafamehr appears without wearing the hijab, a practice that has been allowed
previously in Iranian films.

Those who commissioned the movie say 49 different countries were represented in features at the
Adelaide Film Festival. They say such events are created to explore political and social ideas from
around the world.

KATRINA SEDGWICK: And that's the whole point about censorship: it's not up to us to censor a
project obviously other than to decide whether or not we support it or not. I think that this is a
very interesting film, it's by a very talented team, it explores ideas that have, you know, a
resonance for us.

NASIM NASR, ARTIST: Well it's so sad and I think this news wouldn't make anyone happy in the world.
And - but also there is a strong message in this news that we should be more appreciative of
Australian culture.

MIKE SEXTON: One woman who understands the cross-cultural tension is Iranian born artist Nasim
Nasr. Her work features on the streets of her adopted home in Adelaide, but most of her family
remains in Tehran.

Is it possible to be an artist without being political when it comes to Iran?

NASIM NASR: Well, I think being an Iranian-born, anything we do as an artist, it might have some
political sides to it. But because I'm a contemporary artist and I make conceptual art, it can be
read in lots of different ways.

MIKE SEXTON: Nasim Nasr discovered this earlier this year when her production, Women in Shadow,
reworked the idea of a fashion parade and questioned the connections between culture, language and

WOMAN: And I'm so glad new generation can talk like this.

MIKE SEXTON: However soon afterward, excerpts of the show appeared on the internet and the artist
found herself under heavy criticism.

NASIM NASR: There is always negative responses, and I'm sure there's always people who not believe
in what I believe. And I just hope that people can have capacity to accept others' opinion, whether
it's against them or whether it's completely opposite.

MIKE SEXTON: Nasim Nasr, Marzieh Vafamehr and Granaz Moussavi are all artists in a tradition that
stretches back centuries in Iran. It seems the only differences is the country in which they
express themselves.

KATRINA SEDGWICK: Clearly there is a lot of courage within the artistic community in Iran. We
really hold out hope that the appeal will be successful.

LEIGH SALES: Mike Sexton reporting.