Festival director wants apology after star denied entry

Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami (Getty)
Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami (Getty)

The director of a Wellington film festival is demanding an apology after Immigration NZ blocked one its star attractions from entering the country.

Officials think Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, in the middle of a world tour to promote her documentary Sonita, might not leave when her week here is up.

Documentary Edge Festival director Dan Shanan says he hasn't heard a thing from Immigration since hearing the news over the weekend. He sent them a copy of her letter of invitation to the festival to as a part of her visa application process.

"The only thing I can think of is she is travelling with an Iranian passport, which is not an easy one to travel with," he told Paul Henry this morning.

Ghaemmaghami was to be a featured guest at the festival, hosting question-and-answer sessions and classes on filmmaking.

She has visited many other countries without trouble. After spending a week here in May, she was scheduled to fly to Australia.

"We are going to put out an open letter to Minister of Immigration Michael Woodhouse today," says Shanan.

"What we are asking is two things: one, to reverse the decision. I do believe it could have been human error. And the second thing, for the Washington DC bureau that issued the denial to apologise to the filmmaker."

Shanan says Ghaemmaghami has expressed her frustration publicly on social media, and it's not a good look for New Zealand.