Filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof shares his story of fleeing Iran

Filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof shares his story of fleeing Iran
Filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof shares his story of fleeing Iran

Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, in the running for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, had to cross the mountains on foot to flee his country before finding refuge in Germany, he told the “Guardian”.

A great voice of Iranian cinema, in the sights of the mullahs’ regime for years, the 51-year-old director was recently sentenced on appeal to 8 years in prison, 5 of which are applicable. Denouncing an “unjust” sentence, he managed to leave Iran clandestinely and take refuge in Germany a few days ago.

He did so at the cost of a “several hours, exhausting and extremely dangerous journey, accompanied by a guide,” which allowed him to cross the mountains and smuggle the border on foot, according to the account published Friday by the British newspaper. He had previously taken care to deactivate all his traceable electronic devices.

Mohammad Rasoulof then hid in a house where he was safe. He explained that he stayed there “quite a long time” before continuing his journey and reaching a place where he was able to contact the German cultural authorities. These confirmed the identity of the filmmaker and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided him with papers which allowed him to continue his journey to Europe.

It was only after arriving in Germany that Mohammad Rasoulof announced that he had fled Iran. German and French authorities are currently in talks to allow the director, whose passport was confiscated in 2017 by Iran, to travel to the Cannes Film Festival (F).

His film “The Seeds of the Wild Fig Tree”, which will be presented next Friday on the Croisette, tells the story of an investigating judge gradually sinking into paranoia, at the time when huge demonstrations break out in Tehran.

Mohammad Rasoulof also told the Guardian that he had only a few hours to decide whether to stay in Iran or flee. But the director wanted to be able to “transmit the stories of what is happening in Iran,” and “that’s something I can’t do in prison,” he summarized.

The director has already been convicted and imprisoned twice in Iran, where repression has continued to increase since the protest movement which shook the country in 2022 after the death of Mahsa Amini.

“I wrote many projects while I was in prison, and I always thought that if I stayed in prison for years, I would not have the strength or the ability to make these films,” he said. -he declares. “So first I have to make them. And then afterwards, there will always be time to return (editor’s note, to Iran) and go to prison.”

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