Jafar Panahi is one of the most significant authors form the Iranian cinema's „New Wave“. His films and talent have been recognized and appreciated by the international film community and film critics for decades. He has won festival awards such as the Golden Lion, the Golden Bear, the Silver Bear, the Golden Leopard and dozens of other prestigious international prizes. Bulgarian audience knows his work since the 1990s, and he himself was a dear guest of Sofia Film Festival in 2002 and 2004. His feature films „The White Balloon“ (1995, the Cannes' Golden Camera winner), „The Mirror“ (1997), „The Circle“ (2000), „Crimson Gold“ (2003), „Offside“ (2006), „This Is Not a Film“ (2011), „Closed Curtain“ (2013), „Taxi“ (2015), „3 Faces“ (2018) were part of the programmes of the most prestigious film forums over the years and most of these movies were presented to the Bulgarian audience in Sofia Film Festival's programmes.
Jafar Panahi was born on July 11, 1960, in the Iranian city of Mianeh. He studied performing arts at the University of Film and Television in Tehran. After graduating, he made films for television and worked as an assistant to Abbas Kiarostami in the film „Through the Olive Trees“ (1994). Following a conflict with the Iranian government, developed for several years over the content of his films, „The Circle“ (2000) and „Crimson Gold“ (2003) were banned by the Islamic government, and in 2010 Iranian authorities arrested Panahi at home, along with his wife, his daughter and 15 of their guests. They have been accused of propaganda against the government. The government sentenced the director to six years in prison, banning him from making films for 20 years and forbidding him to leave the country and to give any interviews to Iranian or foreign language medias. But political reality cannot stop his creative spirit. In 2012, Jafar Panahi was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament.
„I want you to put yourself in my shoes as a filmmaker who can't do anything else but make films, and doesn't want to do anything else. How much time do I have left? Do I have twenty years left to live? I cannot stay idle,“ - said Panahi shortly after his arrest. – „I know this is what they want. They let me out of a small prison and released me to a much larger one. When I was in a small prison, I knew there was nothing I could do there. Every movement was being watched... Now that I am so-called 'free', but in reality in a larger prison, I have to do something and cannot stay idle and let my life be wasted.“
Women - their destiny, their professional development and the struggle for independence in his homeland are among the favorite topics in Jafar Panahi's films. His film „3 Faces“, like „Closed Curtain“ and „Taxi“, which received applause at the premieres in Berlin and around the world, was made under a ban on making movies. Bulgarian audience will have the opportunity to see the film again in a special program of the 25th Sofia Film Festival. For his film „3 Faces“, with which Jafar Panahi pays tribute to his mentor - the late Abbas Kiarostami, the director was also awarded the prize for best film at the Antalya Film Festival, as well as awards from the festivals in Sao Paulo and Hamburg.