Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof sentenced to 8 years in prison and flogging

  • May 10, 2024

Groundxero | May 10, 2024


The award-winning Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, 51, known for his film There Is No Evil, has become the latest artist targeted in a brutal crackdown on all dissent by the Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran following years of mass protests, including over the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini.


Mohammad Rasoulof was on Thursday sentenced to eight years in imprisonment, flogging, fine and confiscation of property by the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Iran.


According to translated tweets from Rasoulof’s lawyer, Babak Paknia, the main reason for issuing this sentence is “signing statements and making films and documentaries,” which in the court’s opinion are “examples of collusion with the intention of committing a crime against the country’s security.


Rasoulof is one of Iran’s leading directors and his film The Seed of the Sacred Fig is due to premiere at the Cannes film festival. According to a report in The Guardian, his lawyer Babak Paknia confirmed the latest developments in an email, adding:

“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.”


This is just the latest act of persecution by the Iranian government against Rasoulof, who has been arrested numerous times for his films’ alleged “propaganda against the system.” 


In 2010, he was sentenced to six years in prison, later reduced to one year, after an accusation of filming without the correct permit.


His work deals with topics including capital punishment and the persecution of writers. Iranian authorities confiscated Rasoulof’s passport and banned him from leaving the country for his film, A Man of Integrity, a drama about endemic corruption in Iran, which won Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2017.


In 2020, Rasoulof was sentenced to one year in prison and banned from film-making for two years for indulging in “propaganda against the system.” Rasoulof could not attend the Berlin film festival in 2020, where his film There Is No Evil – a drama about the death penalty in Iran – the Golden Bear.


In 2023, he was invited at the Cannes film festival to serve on the Un Certain Regard jury but was banned from traveling abroad for his social media posts in 2022 urging Iranian security forces to stop using weapons during protests.


In the past, world renowned Iranian filmmakers like Jafar Panahi and Mostafa al-Ahmad were also jailed for airing dissenting views. Panahi, in particular, had previously been persecuted several times, imprisoned and faced house arrest by the Iranian state. Panahi’s latest imprisonment, in July 2022, ended in February 2023 after he went on hunger strike. 


Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment over Rasoulof’s sentencing. He is not yet in prison following this latest sentencing. His case has been sent to the execution of the judgments.


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