Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof sentenced to eight years in prison

From Humanity

By Pierre Barbancey
, L’Humanité, France. Updated May 10, 2024 at 1:42 p.m.

Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof will not climb the steps of the palace and will not attend the screening of his latest film “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” selected in the official competition of the Cannes Film Festival which starts on May 14. The story of an investigating judge at the Tehran court who becomes paranoid, even losing his weapon, while the country is in the grip of political demonstrations.

He was ” sentenced to eight years of imprisonment (five years applicable), flogging, a fine and confiscation of property according to the verdict rendered by the 29th branch of the Islamic Revolution Court. This judgment was confirmed by the 36th branch of the Aina Court of Appeal and now the case has been referred to the execution of the judgments », Said his lawyer, Babak Paknia, on the X network.

In an email reproduced by “The Guardian”, Paknia added: “ He is accused of having done [ “La graine de la figue sacrée” ] without obtaining a license from the concerned authorities, in addition to accusations that the actresses were not applying hijab properly and were filmed without hijab. All key members of the film are banned from leaving the country and have been investigated by the Intelligence Ministry’s security forces. »

*The harshest sentence ever imposed on the director*

In 2010, he was sentenced to six years in prison, then one year, after a charge of filming without the correct permit (sic). In 2011 he managed to smuggle his film “Au Revoir” out of Iran, presented at the Un Certain Regard Section in Cannes where he won the Best Director Prize. In 2017, he was banned from leaving the country after his passport was confiscated upon his return to Iran. Two years later, the Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced him again to one year in prison and a two-year ban on leaving the country and participating in social or political activities. The authorities thus intended to punish him for his film made in 2017, “A Man of Integrity”, a drama about endemic corruption in Iran, which won the Un Certain Regard Prize at Cannes.

In 2020, he was sentenced to an additional year in prison and a two-year filming ban for “propaganda against the system”. As a result, he was unable to attend the Berlin film festival in February 2020, where his film “The Devil Does Not Exist” – a drama about the death penalty in Iran – won the Bear. ‘gold. Another incarceration followed in July 2022, after Rasoulof lent support to harshly repressed Iranians protesting a building collapse in the southwestern city of Abadan. It was released in February 2023 but was banned from attending the Cannes festival, where he was to be part of the jury for Un Certain Regard.

Filmmakers are particularly targeted in Iran. Jafar Panahi has been detained on several occasions. In July 2022, he was arrested when he came to demonstrate his support for Rasoulof in front of the Tehran court and released in February 2023 after a hunger strike. Shortly after, he left Iran for the first time in 14 years.

After the “Woman, Life, Freedom” demonstrations which followed the death of Jina Mahsa Amini in September 2022, the Iranian authorities intensified their repression against all forms of expression denouncing the system and its corruption. That Mohammad Rasoulof is in the sights of Islamic judges is unfortunately not surprising. (…)

The filmmaker was “sentenced to eight years of imprisonment, flogging,

to a fine and confiscation of property according to the verdict rendered by the 29

chamber of the Islamic Revolution court.

Photo: LOIC VENANCE | Credits: AFP


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