Iranian film-maker Panahi to present film at Venice festival

Celebrated Iranian film-maker Jafar Panahi, who was freed on bail in May after three months in jail, is to attend the world premiere of his latest work "The Accordion", the Venice Film festival said Friday.

"Jafar Panahi is expected in Venice for the Giornate degli Autori - Venice Days section of the 67th Venice Mostra (September1-11)", a statement said.

"The Accordion", a short film shot in Tehran which will be presented on September 1, recounts the adventures of two young street musicians who can no longer play after an incident.

"I'm a director who pays attention to social aspects and what's happening around me ... 'The Accordion' shows my feelings about what's happening and how I see reality," he said in the statement.

On September 2 Panahi will discuss issues broached in his films with director Mazdak Taebi who is also Iranian.

Panahi, who is 50, will also hold a master class with young film-makers from the European Union.

He went on a hunger strike to protest at the conditions of his detention after his March 1 arrest and was released from Tehran's Evin prison on May 25 after posting bail of two billion rials (around 200,000 dollars).

The nature of the charges were not detailed.

A vocal backer of Iran's opposition movement, Panahi, was arrested at his home along with 16 other people, including his wife and daughter. Most were subsequently released.

Culture Minister Mohammad Hosseini said in April that Panahi was detained for making an "anti-regime" film about the unrest that rocked Iran after last year's disputed re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

His release came three days after the conclusion of the 63rd Cannes film festival which he had been invited to attend as part of the jury that decides the winner of the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or.

Panahi is known for his gritty, socially critical movies such as the "Circle," which bagged the 2000 Venice Golden Lion award, "Crimson Gold", and "Offside", winner of the 2006 Silver Bear at the Berlin film festival.

In February, the authorities banned Panahi from leaving the country to attend the Berlinale.

Repeated calls for his release were made after his arrest, including at Cannes.

The Cannes film festival and the French government also condemned his jailing, while French actress Juliette Binoche wept when she heard that he was on hunger strike.

In a message read out at Cannes, Panahi denied any wrongdoing.

"I am innocent. I have not made any film against the Iranian regime," he said.

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