Award-winning Iranian Director Mohammad Rasoulof Sentenced to Flogging and Prison

Mohamed Rasulof, whose three films won awards at the Cannes Film Festival, was sentenced to eight years in prison, whipping, a fine and confiscation of property, his lawyer confirmed, just before the director was due to head to Cannes Film Festival

by Sededin Dedovic
Award-winning Iranian Director Mohammad Rasoulof Sentenced to Flogging and Prison
© Andreas Rentz / Getty Images

Award-winning Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof has been sentenced to eight years in prison, flogging, a fine, and confiscation of property, confirmed his lawyer just before the director was supposed to head to the Cannes Film Festival.

Babak Paknia, a human rights lawyer representing Mohammad Rasoulof, wrote online on "X" that the verdict had been confirmed in the appellate court and that the case was now sent for enforcement. As main reasons for the sentence, the lawyer cited Rasoulof's public statements as well as his continued involvement in filmmaking and documentaries, which the court described as "examples of complicity with the intent to commit a crime against the security of the country." Preparing for the Cannes Film Festival Rasoulof (52) is one of Iran's leading directors, whose latest film, "The Seed Of The Sacred Fig," is set to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival next week.

Since it was announced last month that the film would be in the main competition program of the Cannes Film Festival, the director and the festival have come under significant pressure from Iranian authorities to withdraw the title from competition.

The film's producers reported harassment by state police, previously announced Paknia on "X", and actors were summoned for questioning and prohibited from leaving the country. "He is accused of filming without obtaining permission from the relevant authorities, with allegations that the actresses did not properly wear hijab and were filmed without hijab.

All key participants in the film were prohibited from leaving the country and were the subject of investigation by government security forces," the lawyer said. Yesterday's verdict, which includes flogging, is the harshest punishment handed down to this director so far.

In 2010, Rasoulof was sentenced to six years in prison, later reduced to one year, after being accused of filming without the appropriate permit. Then, in 2017, he was prohibited from leaving the country and his passport was confiscated upon his return to Iran.

He served a prison sentence in Tehran from July 2022 to last February for protesting against the repression of participants in civil demonstrations in Iran on social media. Three of Rasoulof's films have won awards in the Cannes selection "Un Certain Regard." These include "Goodbye" (2011), "Manuscripts Don't Burn" two years later, and "A Man of Integrity" in 2017, as reported by The Guardian.