Iran Pulls Filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof’s Passport As Award Winner Returns Home

Mohammad Rasoulof

The passport of award-winning A Man of Integrity and Manuscripts Don’t Burn filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof has been confiscated by officials in Tehran. The incident occurred upon Rasoulof’s return to Iran on Friday evening, international film critics’ association FIPRESCI said in a statement posted to its website. Kaveh Farnam, producer of A Man of Integrity (aka Lerd), which won the Un Certain Regard prize in Cannes this year, told the org that Rasoulof is now unable to leave the country.

As word emerged about Rasoulof’s detention, the Tehran Times separately reported that Iran’s Oscar selection committee is evaluating a shortlist of 10 films as candidates for the Foreign Language category. A Man of Integrity is not among them.

Along with Asghar Farhadi and Jafar Panahi, Rasoulof is among the best-known Iranian filmmakers on the international stage. While two-time Oscar winner Farhadi has not had public run-ins with the local government, both Panahi and Rasoulof have been down this road before.

In 2013, Rasoulof’s passport was confiscated on a return home to Iran. At the time, it was suspected that his film Manuscripts Don’t Burn, which won a FIPRESCI prize in Cannes, was a factor given its critique of censorship at the hands of the Iranian regime.

Earlier, in 2010, Rasoulof was arrested for “propaganda against the regime” and received a six-year prison sentence, ultimately reduced to one, and a 20-year ban on filmmaking. The detention came at the same time as Panahi’s arrest. He remains under a 20-year ban and is not allowed to travel. Both men have continued to make movies, in some cases covertly, but Rasoulof’s prison sentence was not enforced and he has been able to move around. His most recent trip was to Telluride with A Man of Integrity.

While Manuscripts Don’t Burn was made in secrecy, Rasoulof told Reuters in Cannes this year that he got permission to shoot A Man of Integrity, but only after signing a paper promising it would not be completely “dark.” The film looks at the effects of corruption on a man and his family.

At the time, the news agency said Rasoulof’ was still at risk of judicial interference in his work. His movies never have been shown in Iran.

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