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Iranian director barred from leaving country, can't come to TIFF

Jafar Panahi in a scene from "This Is Not a Film"

Iranian director Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, who co-directed This Is Not a Film with Jafar Panahi, won't be allowed to come to the Toronto International Film Festival to promote his film.

The film's international distributor, Clementine Hugot, told Variety that the filmmaker's passport was pulled on Monday at Tehran Airport, where he intended to fly to Paris with his wife and son to promote the French theatrical release of the film. As well, the filmmaker's baggage, laptop and notebooks were confiscated.

After France, Kirtahmasb was scheduled to come to Toronto, where the film, made for an estimated $4,500 on a digital camera and an iPhone, is set to screen in the film festival's Masters section, before appearances in festivals in New York, London and Busan.

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This Is Not A Film was made in Panahi's Tehran apartment where Panahi, who has been banned from filmmaking for 20 years, is being held under house arrest. When it was completed, it was stored on a USB stick hidden inside a cake and sneaked out to the Cannes film festival for its world premiere last May.

Mirtahmasb was allowed to go to Cannes though it's not believed that, at the time, Iranian authorities were aware of the film's existence.

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