Last September 17, Iranian authorities have arrested and imprisoned six documentary film-makers, accusing them of working for BBC Persian service, banned in the country. The group was arrested following the broadcast on BBC Persian of a documentary about Iranian Supreme Leader ayatollah Khamenei. BBC states that none of the filmmakers works for the BBC, formally or informally. BBC has acquired the broadcast rights of works by the arrested filmmakers Naser Saffarian, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Hadi Afarideh, Mohsen Shahrnazdar, Katayoun Shahabi en Mehrdad Zahedian.
Film producer Katayoun Shahabi was a guest of the International Film Festival Rotterdam several times. During IFFR 2011 she was a member of the NETPAC Jury that awards the best Asian film in the festival programme. Katayoun Shahabi and her fellow jury members – Indonesian writer, director and human rights activist Ratna Sarumpaet and Chinese film producer Zhang Xian-min – awarded two films: The Day I Disappeared
, a film essay about immigration by the Amsterdam-based, Iranian visual artist and film-maker Atousa Bandeh Ghiasabadi, and Black Blood
, a Hubert Bals Fund-supported film by Zhang Miaoyan about blood trade in a poor and ecologically endangered area of Inner-Mongolia.
Last year, Iranian authorities arrested filmmaker Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof. Both are not allowed to make films for several years.