Six years in prison and 223 lashes (no more, no less). This is the punishment handed down by Iran’s Revolutionary Court to the Iranian-Kurdish filmmaker Keywan Karimi. 223 words (no more, no less) will be the response of film-makers from all around the world in defence of his situation, creating a collective film entitled 223 words, as announced in the newspaper El País.
Andrés Duque, James Benning, Ignacio Agüero and Montxo Armendáriz have expressed their solidarity with words such as freedom, peace, and embrace, but the film 223 words is a living being. It will be constantly updated until it reaches the number that, far from being magic, highlights the injustice and inhumanity shown in his case which, should his appeal fail on 23 December, will be added to that of directors such as Jafar Panahi whose freedom has also been threatened in Iran. Day in day out, week in week out, we will come to realise that there are filmmakers who, through the power of their word, convey a common message of freedom of expression, 223 words by and for Keywan Karimi, forcing the world of film and the international community to reflect.
Accused of anti-Government propaganda, Keywan insists that his films are his best defence: “Before you judge me, see my films”. In spite of his youth, his short films (available on his Vimeo channel) have never shied away from controversial subjects for Iranian society, such as the smuggling of gasoline across his country’s border, the lack of help and welfare for those affected by Multiple Sclerosis, and the questionable actions of Iran’s juvenile courts. However, it was with his documentary Writing on the city that he revealed the political and counter-cultural importance of graffiti in Teheran in recent history, which led the authorities to hunt him down.
After entering his apartment and confiscating his computer, destroying his hard drives, one copy of the film could be saved and it is now in Pamplona. Writing on the city will receive its global premiere at the next edition of the Punto de Vista Festival, from 8 to 14 February 2016. Until then, each of the 223 words will provide a gesture of sympathy, but also adds weight to his campaign as he awaits his verdict.
To sign in defence of Kaywan Karimi click on the platform created by the San Sebastián Film Festival.