Several high-profile European organizations have today called for the freedom of Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, who last week was ordered to serve a one-year prison sentence by his home country’s government.
The European Film Academy, Berlin International Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Deutsche Filmakademie, Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, Filmfest Hamburg, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands Film Fund and Accademia del cinema italiano-Premi David di Donatello, all today issued notices campaigning for the director’s release.
Rasoulof was unable to attend this year’s Berlin Film Festival award ceremony, where his film There Is No Evil won the top prize Golden Bear. In 2019, he was sentenced to one-year in prison for the political nature of his films, which the Iranian government cited as “propaganda against the Islamic government,” and was given a two-year travel ban. On March 4 his lawyer confirmed that he has now been summoned to serve that jail time.
The Berlin festival issued a statement today saying it “protests the decision.” Festival directors Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian said, “We are deeply concerned about the incarceration order for Mohammad Rasoulof. It’s shocking that a director is punished so hard for his artistic work. We hope that the Iranian authorities will soon revise the judgment.”
Wim Wenders, President of the European Film Academy, added, “Our colleague Mohammad Rasoulof is an artist who keeps telling us about a reality we would otherwise know little about. His Golden Bear winning film There Is No Evil is a deeply humane portrait of people in extreme situations, situations no human should be forced to experience. We need voices like that of Mohammad Rasoulof, voices defending human rights, freedom and dignity.”
Ulrich Matthes, President of the Deutsche Filmakademie added, “Mohammad Rasoulof is an outstanding artist whose deeply humane films about freedom and oppression have reached so many people worldwide throughout his career. He is a representative master of Iranian cinema: a rich film culture that has provided us with some of the most compelling stories about the human condition. Mohammad Rasoulof’s films not only tell us about life in Iran but also speak to us in the universal language of cinema to promote empathy and peace. We need artists like Mohammad Rasoulof to be able to raise their voice without fear of reprisal.”
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