December 23, 2010 at 02:14 PM EST

Image Credit: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty ImagesHollywood peers of imprisoned Iranian filmmakers, Jafar Panahi (left) and Mohammad Rasoulof, rallied to their defense after they were sentenced to six years in prison. Yesterday, Martin Scorsese released a statement of support, saying, “I was shocked and disheartened by the news of Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof’s conviction and sentencing. It’s depressing to imagine a society with so little faith in its own citizens that it feels compelled to lock up anyone with a contrary opinion. As filmmakers, we all need to stand up for Panahi and Rasoulof. We should applaud their courage and campaign aggressively for their immediate release.”

Taylor Hackford, president of the Directors Guild of America, also spoke out, saying, “We are outraged by this attempt to lock away and silence Mr. Panahi, a world-renowned filmmaker, along with his fellow filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof who was similarly sentenced. We understand full well how crucial creative freedom is to liberty, art, culture and human rights, and we oppose any attempt to suppress the rights of artists to engage in creative expression. We stand together with the world’s film community to protest this illegal action. We urge the Iranian government to rescind its misguided decision and free Mr. Panahi and Mr. Rasoulof.”

Panahi, who made such award-winning films as The White Balloon (1995) and The Circle (2000), had supported the political opposition and was arrested in March for making a film without government permission and inciting political protests. Rasoulef has directed such films as Iron Island (2005).

Read more:

Iranian director sentenced to 6 years

Iran releases filmmaker Jafar Panahi from prison

Jafar Panahi: A terrific filmmaker is in prison, not at Cannes where he belongs

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