Iranian director Jafar Panahi banned from Venice film festival

London: Noted Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi has been barred from attending the 67th Venice film festival by Tehran.

In a statement issued to festival bosses, the director, who was released from jail earlier this year, said he was denied a request to attend the event by the government, Contactmusic reported.

Panahi`s short film `The Accordion` was screened at the festival that opened yesterday with Darren Aronofsky`s psychological thriller `Black Swan`.

"Despite having been released, I am still not free to travel outside my country to attend film festivals," the 50-year-old director said.

"When a filmmaker is not allowed to make films, he is mentally imprisoned. He may not be confined to a small cell, but he is still wandering in a larger prison," said Panahi, whose arrest in March led to widespread protests in the international film community.

At the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Panahi`s seat on the jury was left empty as a mark of protest.

The director thanked the "international community of filmmakers for their generous support while I was in prison.

Although my imprisonment was a bitter experience, it bore sweet fruit for me when it helped me realise that we, the filmmakers and film lovers of the world... are a united community," Panahi said.

The director was shooting a film about the aftermath of Iran`s controversial June 2009 elections when he was arrested by the authorities. He was released in May on a bail of USD 200,000 and two weeks of hunger strike.

Panahi won the Camera d`Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his 1995 film `White Balloon` and he claimed a top honour at the Venice Film Festival in 2000 for `The