Steven Zaillian, Jafar Panahi & A Thousand Splendid Suns

I am saddened regarding the imprisonment of Mr. Jafar Panahi, a Iranian film-maker. I wanted to write something about him about few weeks ago, yet my busy schedule didn’t allow me. Mr. Panahi’s credit includes, Offside, The Circle and Crimson Gold. Iranian regime arrested Mr. Panahi about 2 years ago for “assembly and colluding with the intention to commit crimes against the country’s national security and propaganda against the Islamic Republic” and sentenced him to six years in person. Not only that, but banned him from making films and even cannot leave the country for next twenty years as well. There are protests and petition have been held all over the world for his release, but it seems like there is no one in Iranian regime to listen to the protests.

I have read few articles regarding his arrest, yet I didn’t know that he was about to turn his face towards Hollywood for the first time. According to the tweet from Time Out London, they had an interview with Oscar winning screenwriter, Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, Moneyball, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo ) who has penned a script based on author Khaled Hosseini’s second bestselling novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns. Mr. Khaled Hosseini’s first novel was the bestselling novel, The Kite Runner, which was later turned into a film directed by Marc Forster. Mr. Zaillian’s intention was to bring Jafar Panahi to helm the project, and according to another tweet, Panahi “stated that he wanted to do it.”

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to the post-Taliban rebuidling that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives – the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Mr. Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, which was adapted for the screen and helmed by Marc Forster saddened me, for it was not made the way it should have been. There are few main points in the film that didn’t do justice to the Afghan culture, music, and art. I am not worried about Mr. Zaillian’s involvement with the second book, he is a great screenwriter and award winning one. Nothing should go wrong. But I am skeptical about Mr. Panahi here. I hope they release him and allow him to make films, for he is innocent. What I am worried about the most is if Mr. Panahi is the director who is going to comprehend the gravity of the book’s message and story? I hope so. Not just Mr. Panahi, but any film-maker who is going to helm this book.

And, please send a message if you can, via Amnesty International to the Iranian Regime on Mr. Jafar Panahi’s behalf for his safe release.