(The Guardian, UK) | March 7, 2010
By Lizzy Davies
Actress Golshifteh Farahani, exiled in Paris, reveals the pressures on Iran’s artistic community after anti-government film-maker is arrested
Golshifteh Farahani knows how dangerous it is now to be an artist in Tehran. In 2008 she became the first Iranian-based actress in almost 30 years to appear in a Hollywood blockbuster. Starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies, she hoped the film would be appreciated in her homeland for its critical stance on America’s politics in the Middle East.
She was wrong. When she returned to Tehran the then 24-year-old was subjected to seven months of inquisition from the authorities of the Islamic republic. Reprimanded for not having asked the permission of the government, she became a regular guest of the Information Ministry and intelligence services.
Eventually she cracked. By the time Body of Lies was released, she was an exile in Paris. She does not know when she will go home.
Last week, as the Iranian diaspora reeled from the arrest of Jafar Panahi, the most outspoken film director still living in Tehran, Farahani felt a fresh rush of fury towards a regime which critics say is taking ever greater steps towards a total crackdown on free speech.