Cannes Film Festival to honour jailed Iranian directors

Jafar Panahi Panahi's films include Offside, Crimson Gold and The Mirror

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Jailed Iranian film directors Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof are to be honoured at the Cannes Film Festival.

Rasoulof's film Goodbye and Pahani's This Is Not a Film will be shown at the festival, organisers have said.

Panahi will also be awarded the Carrosse d'Or - the Golden Coach prize - by the French Film Director's Society (SRF) at the event.

The film-makers were convicted in December for working against the Iranian system, Panahi's lawyer said.

Both men were sentenced to six years imprisonment in separate cases.

According to a statement released in Italy in November, Panahi had gone on trial in Iran accused of making a film without permission and inciting opposition protests after the disputed 2009 presidential election that led to months of political turmoil.

Rasoulof was making a film with Panahi before his arrest.

The Iranian authorities maintained that his arrest was not political.

Panahi has been a vocal critic of Iran's strict Islamic law and government system, while his films are known for their social commentary.

He is a winner of many international awards, most recently for his film Offside, which won the 2006 Berlin Film Festival's Silver Bear award.

The film-maker was due to be acting as a member of the jury at last year's Cannes Film Festival in France. He was also prevented from attending the latest Venice film festival in September.

US film director Steven Spielberg and French actress Juliette Binoche have been among those who have spoken out in his favour.

Cannes Film Festival organisers Gilles Jacob and Thierry Fremaux said of Panahi and Rasoulof: "That they send them [the films] to Cannes, at the same time, the same year, when they face the same fate, is an act of courage along with an incredible artistic message."

The festival runs from 11 to 22 May.

Meanwhile, organisers of the Venice Film Festival have announced plans to honour Italian director Marco Bellocchio at this year's event.

The 71-year-old will receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in September for his "tireless" work "exploring the shifting boundaries between himself, cinema and history".

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