Iranian film maker allowed into NZ

  • 20/04/2016
Director Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami (L) and Afghan rapper Sonita Alizadeh (Getty)
Director Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami (L) and Afghan rapper Sonita Alizadeh (Getty)

Iranian film maker Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami will now be allowed into the country after initially having her visa denied.

She was declined entry to New Zealand ahead of the upcoming Documentary Edge Festival. Ms Ghaemmaghami was scheduled to appear at the festival in Auckland and Wellington next month, discussing her film Sonita.

Immigration NZ area manager Michael Carley confirmed the visa approval this morning. He also apologised to Ms Ghaemmaghami for any inconvenience caused and says he is pleased it was resolved in time for her intended travel plans.

Officials thought she was at risk of overstaying and said she didn't appear to be a "bona fide visitor to New Zealand, genuinely intending a temporary stay for a lawful purpose".

Amnesty International called the visa rejection bizarre and supported calls for it to be overturned, which included a petition with over 100 signatures.

The Documentary Edge team say they're thrilled the visa has been issued. Ms Ghaemmaghami is also incredibly relieved with the decision.

"Thanks to all my filmmaker friends and documentary organizations from all around the world for showing their support in regards to the visa problem," she said in a statement.

"Also, thanks to New Zealand immigration system for showing a responsible and quick reaction to request of more than 1000 people.

"I am so excited to be able to present my movie to New Zealand audiences in the prestigious Doc Edge Festival. Now I feel that I am a member of a big family of filmmakers all around the world who believe that there should not be any borders for artists."

Festival directors, Dan Shanan and Alex Lee, sent an open letter to Minister of Immigration Michael Woodhouse on Monday.

"We are delighted that Rokhsareh will attend Doc Edge Festival and Screen Edge Forum and encourage everyone to attend the screenings," they said.

"Doc Edge look forward to welcoming the many international guests to New Zealand, and opening this stimulating festival which features 52 feature length and short films."

Ms Ghaemmaghami is due to arrive on May 12.

Read more: Iranian film director declined entry to NZ