Acclaimed Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof has been prevented from leaving the country to attend the Cannes Film Festival to serve on the Un Certain Regard jury.
As first reported in the Farsi-language news service of Radio France Internationale (RFI), Rasoulof had hoped to attend Cannes this year after Iranian authorities, in February, granted him a temporary release, after seven months imprisonment, from Tehran’s Evin prison due to ill health.
Rasoulof’s friend, and fellow dissident director Jafar Panahi, was allowed to leave Iran last week to travel abroad, for the first time in 14 years. He visited his daughter in France before returning to Iran.
Rasoulof, however, has not been let out.
The 50-year-old director is one of the most prominent critics of the Iranian regime and his public statements have landed him in prison several times over the years. He has been banned from making films and, for the past 6 years, from leaving the country.
Rasoulof has continued to work, shooting films in secret. His 2020 feature There Is No Evil, a blistering attack on the violence and hypocrisy at the core of the Islamic Republic, was smuggled out of the country and screened at the Berlin Film Festival, where it won the Golden Bear for best film.
Before his travel ban, the director was a Cannes regular. His features Manuscripts Don’t Burn (2013) and A Man Of Integrity (2017) both premiere in Un Certain Regard. The first won the Fipresci critics’ prize, the latter the best film honor. The international festival tour for A Man Of Integrity was the last film Rasoulof was able to leave the country. When he returned to Iran following the film’s premiere in Telluride in September 2017, authorities confiscated his passport.
Rasulof was arrested last July, ahead of the ongoing Woman Life Freedom protests, for signing a petition condemning police violence against demonstrators.
The Hollywood Reporter has contacted the Cannes Film Festival for comment.