The Australian producers of a film critical of Iran say they are appalled at reports that an Iranian actress has been sentenced to a year in prison and 90 lashes for appearing in the movie.

The Iranian opposition website said Monday that Marzieh Vafamehr’s attorney had appealed the sentence. Lashing sentences are not uncommon in Iran, but many are not carried out. There was no official statement.

The movie was produced by an Australian—based company. On Tuesday, producers Julie Ryan and Kate Croser said in a statement that they did not know the specifics of the charges against Vafamehr. But they said they believe the charges relate to scenes in which Marzieh appears without a hijab headscarf.

Ryan and Croser said they were shocked and saddened by the sentence.

PTI report:

Actress Marzieh Vafamehr has been sentenced to a year in jail and 90 lashes by an Iranian court for her role in an Australian film on the limits imposed on artists in the Islamic republic.

The film My Tehran for Sale which won the 2009 Independent Spirit Inside Film award and the jury award for best feature film at the Trimedia Film Festival last year, has been directed by Iranian-Australian Granaz Moussavi.

It was production of Adelaide-based Cyan Films and the movie tells the story of a young actress in Tehran whose theatre work is banned by the authorities.

The film has been shot entirely on location in Tehran and was premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival in 2009, included rarely seen images of modern urban Iran and revealed how young Iranian people live behind closed doors.

Cyan Films’ producers, Kate Crosser and Julie Ryan, were not available for comment about Vafamehr’s sentence.

The Iranian-origin actress, who appears in the movie without a ‘hijab’ and with a shaved head, was first arrested in Tehran in July after the film was heavily criticised by Iran’s conservative commentators.

Iranian authorities have not released details of the charges against her.

According to The Age, Iran’s Fars news agency was quoted as saying that the film had not been approved for screening in Iran and was being distributed illegally.

It is believed Vafamehr’s family will appeal against the decision to punish her.

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