Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof sentenced to prison

(Tehran) Famous Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, whose latest film will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival, was sentenced to five years in prison by an Iranian court for “collusion against national security,” his lawyer announced on Wednesday .

The director, awarded several times at international festivals, was also sentenced to lashes, a fine and the confiscation of his property, said Mr.e Babak Paknia in messages posted on X.

This judgment was not announced by official Iranian media.

His lawyer indicated that the court had imposed a prison sentence of eight years, including five years applicable, and that this judgment had been confirmed on appeal on an unspecified date.

The 77e Cannes Film Festival, which begins on May 14 in the south of France, has selected the new film by Mohammad Rasoulof, The seed of the sacred fig.

On April 30, Me Paknia claimed that authorities summoned members of the film’s crew for questioning and were pressured to withdraw the film from international competitions.

Mohammad Rasoulof, 52, was arrested in July 2022 for encouraging demonstrations sparked after the collapse of a building that killed more than 40 people in May in southwest Iran.

“Independent filmmakers”

After this tragedy, a group of Iranian filmmakers he led published an open letter calling on the security forces “to lay down their arms” in the face of national indignation against the “corruption” and “incompetence” of those responsible.

He was then released temporarily for health reasons in January 2023 and prohibited from leaving the territory.

This temporary release came as Iran was shaken by protests sparked by the death on September 16, 2022 of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, following her arrest by the moral police for alleged violation of the code clothing for women.

Mohammad Rasoulof won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes in 2017 for A man of integritythe story of a man with a simple life who tries to fight against the dishonest maneuvers of a private company pushing villagers to sell their goods.

He then received the Golden Bear at the Berlin festival in 2020 for The devil does not exista reflection on free will and the duty to disobey.

Banned from leaving Iranian territory, he was unable to receive his prize, having been sentenced the previous year to a year in prison for “propaganda against the system” after his film A man of integrity.

Mohammad Rasoulof was invited to Cannes in 2023 as a member of a jury, but was unable to make the trip, still subject to a travel ban.

In July 2022, authorities arrested internationally renowned dissident filmmaker Jafar Panahi when he arrived at a Tehran court to follow Mr. Rasoulof’s case. He was released on bail in February 2023.

“We are filmmakers, independent filmmakers,” wrote the two filmmakers in a joint letter addressed to the Venice Festival in September 2022.


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