Independent Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 began serving his one-year sentence at Tehran’s Evin Prison. He is also due to receive 223 lashes.
Karimi, 30, was sentenced to six years in prison and 223 lashes by the Tehran Revolutionary Court in October 2015 for “insulting sanctities,” and “spreading propaganda against the system” in his documentary, writing on the City. An appeals court earlier this year had five of the six years of his original sentence suspended and upheld the flogging sentence of 223 lashes.
Following the appeals court ruling, Karimi told Reuters news agency that he had no intention of leaving the country and would serve his sentence.
Karimi was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards Corps on December 14, 2013 after the release of the trailer of Writing on the City on YouTube. He was held in solitary confinement for two weeks.
Writing on the City, which depicts the history of graffiti in Tehran streets from the 1979 revolution until the Green Movement of 2009, has been screened at several International film festivals. The most recent was at the Viennale Festival in Vienna in October.
Karimi’s other works include a short film named The Adventures of a Married Couple, Broken Border and his latest film, Drum, which is his first feature film that was premiered in the summer in the competition section of the Critic’s Week at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. Jean-Michel Frodon, the former editor of Cahiers du Cinemas, said Drum was the best film at the Venice Festival.
It depicts the story of a lawyer whose life completely changes after receiving a package. Karimi directed Drum in the spring of 2016 while awaiting his prison sentence.
Karimi’s prison and flogging sentence has provoked international uproar.
On the eve of the 69th Cannes Film Festival, the documentary section of the Festival Jury called attention to Karimi’s fate, urging that “international efforts must continue to have his sentence overturned.”