French actress Juliette Binoche broke down in tears at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday, May 18 after a journalist informed her jailed filmmaker Jafar Panahi is on hunger strike. The Oscar winner was speaking at a press conference to promote her upcoming picture "Certified Copy" at the annual movie event in France.
One reporter probed Binoche on her thoughts about Panahi - who has been in jail in Iran since March - and revealed the movie mogul was embarking on a hunger strike behind bars. The star was overcome with emotion and unable to answer - prompting the film's director Abbas Kiarostami to offer up his own response.
He told the reporter, "The fact that a filmmaker has been imprisoned is itself intolerable. If the Iranian government continues to refuse to release Jafar, then we need explanations. Jafar Panahi was inclined to make his films under clandestine, illegal circumstances, but that's not his responsibility alone. The responsibility is that of the authorities who prevent him from carrying out his profession. When a filmmaker, an artist, is imprisoned it is art as a whole that is attacked, and it is against this that we should react."
Iranian Panahi is a vocal supporter of the country's opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi and was arrested following a police raid on his home in Tehran in March. A string of Hollywood stars, including Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, have signed a petition to free the moviemaker.