Iran Summons crew of Cannes competition film: Lawyer

AFP , Wednesday 1 May 2024

Iran's authorities summoned for questioning crew members and actors of an Iranian film due to be shown in the main competition at next month's Cannes Film Festival, their lawyer said on Tuesday.

Mohammad Rasoulof
File Photo: Director Mohammad Rasoulof. AFP


The people working on "The Seed of the Sacred Fig", by acclaimed director Mohammad Rasoulof, were pressured to have it withdrawn from the festival. At the same time, the actors were banned from leaving the country, lawyer Babak Paknia posted on the social media site X.

Rasoulof, who won the Golden Bear, the Berlin Film Festival's top prize, in 2020 with his anti-capital punishment film "There Is No Evil", was detained in July 2022.

He was released in late 2023 after anti-government protests that began in September 2022 subsided.

Paknia wrote on X that some crew members had been "interrogated" this week and last week while actors on the film had also been questioned and barred from leaving the country.

"After several hours of interrogation, they were asked to tell the director to remove the film from the Cannes Festival," he said.

He added it was unclear if Rasoulof would be allowed to leave Iran to attend the festival.

The subject matter of the film and its cast remain under wraps, according to film industry media. It was not immediately clear how many people working on it were interrogated.

Appearances at the Cannes Festival have in recent years been increasingly contentious for Iranian directors and actors.

Prominent director Saeed Roustaee was sentenced to six months in prison for the screening of his film "Leila's Brothers" at the 2022 festival.

Iranian authorities claimed it had been shown without authorisation.

The film's star Taraneh Alidoosti was released in early 2023 after almost three weeks in jail over her support for the protest movement sparked by the death in September 2022 of Mahsa Amini who had been arrested for allegedly flouting Iran's strict Islamic dress code for women.

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