Cannes film festival. Why is the special jury prize awarded to the Iranian Mohammad Rasoulof a strong gesture?

Cannes film festival. Why is the special jury prize awarded to the Iranian Mohammad Rasoulof a strong gesture?
Cannes film festival. Why is the special jury prize awarded to the Iranian Mohammad Rasoulof a strong gesture?

“The Seeds of the Wild Fig Tree” received the grand jury prize for its film. The jury was sensitive to the director’s political commitment. He affirms that the Iranian people, who had to flee their country, he denounces “a people who are taken hostage by the regime”.

The prize is a symbol of support for Iranian artists victims of repression and a consecration for a director who defied censorship for decades before resolving into exile.

Very moved, Mohammad Rasoulov gave a serious speech to the public at the Palais des Festivals.

“I thank you all. I have a thought for the members of my team who are not with me. There are some of my actors and my technicians who are held in Iran and who are being held. My heart is in an ambivalent state. I am happy that my film is recognized by this award but I am also deeply saddened by the catastrophe that my people experience on a daily basis. Every morning the Iranian people are taken hostage by this regime of the Islamic Republic. (…) I thank all the actresses, their boundless courage, those who were able to come, producers, distributors, who made this miracle possible. My heart is with them above all. Thank you to your jury for distinguishing us.”

He adds that journalists and artists are also currently in Iranian jails. He adds : “Don’t allow the government to treat Iranian artists like this.”

Mohammad Rasoulova was punished with 8 years of imprisonment. The director had to flee his country on foot.

The story of his film is that of a closed session in a country under permanent tension.

Filmed clandestinely, The seeds of the wild fig tree is a paranoid thriller about an Iranian investigator and his family, in the midst of repressing protests against the regime. The filmmaker interspersed his film with numerous amateur images and images from social networks. It shows student gatherings, women burning their headscarves in public and police brutality. A political charge against the dictatorship, the film, nourished by Rasoulof’s prison experience, pays homage to the “Women, life, freedom” movement.

The father, Iman, just promoted to investigator, his wife Najmeh, who serves him tirelessly, and his two teenage daughters, Sana and Rezvan. While the death of a young woman during her arrest for “wearing inappropriate clothing” provokes a wave of harshly repressed demonstrations, the patriarch spends his time pronouncing condemnations. His wife spends her time worrying and judging the demonstrators while his daughters help a seriously injured friend. Everything comes to a head when Iman’s gun, symbol of his social success, disappears, and his suspicions fall on his wife and then his children.

Born in 1972 in Shiraz (southwest of Iran), Mohammad Rasoulof has long been in the sights of the authorities, who condemned him for “propaganda against the regime” and subjected him to numerous interrogations. The director was regularly deprived of his freedom to travel or work in Iran.

And, between the Cannes Film Festival and the Iranian director, it is the continuation of a turbulent story.

In July 2022, Mohammad Rasoulof was arrested with another filmmaker, Mostafa Aleahmad. Both were imprisoned for protesting against violence against civilians in Iran. Mohammad Rasoulof had already been deprived of his freedom to move and work since 2017, following the presentation of his film A man of integrity, who won the “Un Certain Regard” prize at the 70th edition of the Cannes Film Festival.

His movies Manuscripts do not burn,price Fipresci in 2013 and Bye, prix from the production Un Certain Regard in 2011, were also screened there. He subsequently won the Golden Bear at the Berlinale in 2020 with The Devil does not exist.

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Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulouf hoped on Friday that “oppression and dictatorship” would eventually disappear in Iran, from which he had to leave to avoid several years in prison.

© SAMEER AL-DOUMY / AFP

The Franco-Iranian actress, Golshifteh Farahani is in Cannes, she received the Humann prize from the No more plastic foundation for her commitment to the rights of Iranian women. She also took the steps alongside director Mohammad Rasoulof.

Golshifteh Farahani has been living in exile in France for 15 years. As part of the 9th week of positive cinema, a few hours before going up the stairs, she was signing a book at Fnac, “We are not afraid, the courage of Iranian women” (ed. Du Faubourg). We met him on this occasion. In Cannes, she also received the Humann Prize from the foundation for her commitment to women’s rights.

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