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Iranian film director refused visa

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 17/04/2016

Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami © Getty Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami Film festival organisers want the government to grant a visa to an Iranian director who has been refused entry.

Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami was invited to take part in the Doc Edge documentary festival but she says her visa application was rejected.

She's based in Tehran and was travelling in the United States when she applied to the New Zealand consulate in Washington.

"They wrote a letter to me that because they are not sure that I won't stay in New Zealand forever, they can't give me a visa," she told RNZ.

"They told me that I don't have enough financial and family ties in my own country."

Festival directors Dan Shanan and Alex Lee on Monday released a letter they're sending to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.

In it they outline Ms Ghaemmaghami's successes and her international reputation.

Her film Sonita, about an Afghan girl refugee, will be a festival feature.

"We ask that you review this decision and approve her visa... we ask that an apology be issued from NZIS Washington DC to Rokhsareh for the humiliation and embarrassment caused," the festival directors say in their letter to Mr Woodhouse.

"There is damage done to both the reputation of the festival and New Zealand as a whole, the message going out does not go hand in hand with our New Zealand hospitality."

The festival runs in Auckland and Wellington from May 4 to 29.

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