A new film by Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who is banned from leaving Iran, has premiered to a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival.

Panahi's children and the cast of his film Three Faces were welcomed with thunderous applause as they arrived for the gala screening late on May 12, where one seat was left symbolically empty for the dissident director.

The film, which tells the story of the intertwined fate of three Iranian women, is one of 21 movies vying for the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or.

Starring Panahi himself and veteran actress Behnaz Jafari, the film puts a spotlight on the social and professional problems encountered by Iranian women -- especially actresses.

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