IRAN - Mohammad Rasoulof Flees Iran After Flogging, Prison Sentence

IRAN - Mohammad Rasoulof

20 May 2024 :

May 13, 2024 - IRAN. Mohammad Rasoulof Flees Iran After Flogging, Prison Sentence
Award-Winning Filmmaker Rasoulof secretly left Iran amid pressure from the authorities to pull his latest film from the Cannes.
Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof on May 13 said he had left Iran in secret after being informed that he had been sentenced to flogging and eight years in prison on security-related charges.
Rasoulof, who has been convicted of "collusion to act against national security," said in a statement that he had left for Europe days earlier.
His statement was released by Films Boutique and Parallel45, who are distributing his latest film, The Seed Of The Sacred Fig.
The director has been under pressure from the Iranian authorities to pull the film from the Cannes Film Festival, which will kick off this week.
News of his recent sentence was made public last week but he said he knew about it a month ago.
"I didn't have much time to make a decision. I had to choose between prison and leaving Iran. With a heavy heart, I chose exile," Rasoulof wrote.
Separately, he posted a short video to Instagram of an undisclosed mountainous location and wrote that he would talk about his journey out of Iran later.
The filmmaker's passport was confiscated in 2017 and he was barred from leaving the country. He was jailed in June 2022 and was released in February 2023 as part of a mass amnesty.
The cast and crew of The Seed Of The Sacred Fig have been under pressure, and Rasoulof said many had been "put through lengthy interrogations" and are potentially facing prosecution.
"During the interrogations of the film crew, the intelligence forces asked them to pressure me to withdraw the film from the Cannes Festival," he said.
The plot of The Seed Of The Sacred Fig had been kept under wraps until earlier this month it was reported that it tells the story of an Iranian judge struggling with paranoia.
His mistrust intensifies after his gun goes missing amid growing nationwide protests. He suspects his wife and daughters of stealing his weapon and imposes heavy restrictions at home.
Rasoulof won the Berlin Film Festival’s top prize in 2020 for his film There Is No Evil, which tells four stories loosely connected to the themes of the death penalty in Iran and personal freedoms under oppression.
"We are very happy and much relieved that Mohammad has safely arrived in Europe after a dangerous journey," wrote Jean-Christophe Simon, CEO of Films Boutique and Parallel45.
"We hope he will be able to attend the Cannes premiere of The Seed Of The Sacred Fig in spite of all attempts to prevent him from being there in person."


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