Dissident filmmaker flees Iran after prison sentence

Dissident filmmaker flees Iran after prison sentence

Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof says he fled the country after being sentenced to prison for making his latest film in secret.

In an Instagram post, he said he was in a “safe place” after people “risked their lives” to help him cross borders.

His film The Seed of the Sacred Fig will be premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, which opens on Tuesday.

Rasoulof won the top prize at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival with There Is No Evil, a film about the death penalty in Iran.

“I am grateful to my friends, acquaintances and people who, with kindness, selflessness and sometimes risking their lives, helped me get out of the border and to safety after a long and difficult journey,” he said. -he wrote Monday in his message. .

His lawyer Babak Paknia told the AFP news agency: “I can confirm that Mohammad Rasoulof has left Iran and will be present at the Cannes film festival.”

Iranian authorities had tried to force him to ask organizers to remove The Seed of the Sacred Fig from the event, but he refused to do so.

Rasoulof, 51, gave no details of his escape route. He also posted a video of a snow-capped mountain, suggesting he had crossed the border into Iraq or Turkey with the help of smugglers.

Last week, a court sentenced him to eight years in prison for “collusion against national security.”

In his statement posted on Instagram, he said: “The scale and intensity of the crackdown has reached a point of brutality where people expect news of another heinous government crime every day. »

Rasoulof has repeatedly clashed with Iran’s Islamic courts. In 2019, he was sentenced to a year in prison for his film A Man of Integrity, which won an award at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.

After There Is No Evil in 2020, the director was convicted of anti-government propaganda and sentenced to an additional year.


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