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Iranian Filmmaker withdraws from 42nd IFFI Competition jury

The Iranian filmmaker Tahmineh Milani has withdrawn from the jury of the 42nd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa, over the presence of the Israeli director Dan Wolman in the jury and has returned home. However, her resignation came after a controversy broke out in Iran over a TOI report that quoted her over the inclusion of the Israeli director in the IFFI jury. She had said, “We are not politicians, and we find no problem in working together. Cinema is not bound by political boundaries; its appeal is universal.”

Though she stood by her TOI quote she offered an explanation in a letter submitted to the Persian Service of Fars News Agency which said, “Any committed individual disapproves of Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and there is no doubt over my sympathy for the people of Palestine.” According to her when she received the list of the jury members, she accepted the invitation. Names of Lee Yong Kwan from Korea and Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier encouraged her to join the jury. Later Bier fell ill and was replaced by Dan Wolman, a retired filmmaker independent from the Zionists’ regime, and she did not think of complaining even for a second over his appearance at the festival because of the country in which he was born.

Milani clarified further, “None of the jury members attending the international festivals are representatives of their country. They are not like sportsmen who act like a representative of their country. The filmmakers are independent and are invited for their artistic credits and experience.” She still cannot believe why her presence as the jury member beside the independent filmmaker who himself disapproves of his country’s politics, had provoked such widespread criticism by some in Iran.

The IFFI director Shankar Mohan said that it was her personal decision to withdraw from the Jury but she had already completed her task before leaving Goa since it happened at the fag-end of the festival.

RKS