Filmmaker Flees to Europe After Latest Movie Comes with an 8-Year Prison Sentence


In America, a filmmaker who makes it big is honored. In Iran, they get prison.

Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof has left Iran and secretly traveled to Europe after his latest film “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” was accepted by the Cannes Film Festival, according to Variety.

“We are very happy and much relieved that Mohammad has safely arrived in Europe after a dangerous journey,” said Jean-Christophe Simon, CEO of Films Boutique and Parallel45, which are distributing the film. “We hope he will be able to attend the Cannes premiere of ‘The Seed of the Sacred Fig’ in spite of all attempts to prevent him from being there in person.”

Rasoulof, has been sentenced to eight years in prison, flogging, a fine, and confiscation of property, Babak Paknia, a lawyer representing Rasoulof said, according to The Guardian.

Paknia said Rasoulof’s films have been condemned by an Iranian court as “examples of collusion with the intention of committing a crime against the country’s security”.

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“He is accused of making [“The Seed of the Sacred Fig”] without obtaining a license from the related authorities, alongside accusations that the actresses were not applying hijab properly and were filmed without hijab. All key members of the film are banned from leaving the country and have been investigated by the security forces of the Ministry of Intelligence,” Paknia said.

Variety noted that Rasoulof has been dueling with Iranian authorities over his work since 2011, when he was slapped with a later-rescinded sentence of six years in prison and a 20-year ban on making movies. In 2017, Iran revoked his passport after he made “A Man of Integrity” about corruption in Iran.

Rasoulof issued a statement about his clandestine move, according to Deadline. In the statement he said his choice was “between prison and leaving Iran. With a heavy heart, I chose exile. The Islamic Republic confiscated my passport in September 2017. Therefore, I had to leave Iran secretly.”

He said others have it worse.

Do you think Rasoulof will serve prison time?

“Death sentences are being executed as the Islamic Republic has targeted the lives of protesters and civil rights activists. It’s hard to believe, but right now as I’m writing this, the young rapper, Toomaj Salehi is held in prison and has been sentenced to death,” he said in the statement.

“The scope and intensity of repression has reached a point of brutality where people expect news of another heinous government crime every day. The criminal machine of the Islamic Republic is continuously and systematically violating human rights.”

In the statement, he said Iran’s intelligence service has put pressure on all of the actors and crew involved in the movie.

“Despite the vast limitations I and my colleagues and friends faced while making the film, I tried to achieve a cinematic narrative that is far from the narrative dominated by the censorship in the Islamic Republic and closer to its reality,” he said.

“I have no doubt that restricting and suppressing freedom of expression cannot be justified even if it becomes a spur for creativity, but when there is no way, a way must be made.”

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Iran’s Independent Filmmaker Association criticized the sentence, according to CNN.

“Once again, the judiciary’s verdict against Mohammad Rasoulof proved that the law is only a playground for stubbornness and revenge in the legal system contaminated by government jurisprudence,” it said.

“Independent and freedom-loving cinematographers condemn the invalid judgment of the judiciary against Mohammad Rasoulof and stand by him and all the artists who make fun of government censorship.”

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Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.
Jack can be reached at
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