Arts & Culture

Defiant Iranian Director Makes Daring Escape to Premiere Film at Cannes

In a dramatic turn of events, Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof walked on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday, just days after escaping a prison sentence in his home country.

Rasoulof, a vocal critic of the Iranian regime, expressed his disbelief at his presence at the festival, arriving at the Palais des Festivals on the French Riviera.

His escape, described as “hair-raising”, allowed him to present his latest film, “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” which is vying for the prestigious Palme d’Or award.

The film’s premiere coincides with the last day of screenings at Cannes, with winners announced on Saturday.

Made on a shoestring budget and filmed clandestinely within Iran, “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” explores the life of a prosecutor caught between his duties and the turmoil of the 2022-23 “Women, Life, Freedom” protests.

This is not Rasoulof’s first brush with persecution. Previously imprisoned twice for his politically charged films, he also faced a revoked passport since 2017.

Despite pressure to withdraw his latest film, Rasoulof, aware of a looming eight-year prison sentence for “collusion against national security,”  embarked on a daring escape plan.

In an interview with Deadline magazine, Rasoulof revealed a grueling 28-day journey on foot, navigating border villages, to leave Iran.

He attributed his successful escape to the support of fellow Iranians who, he says, “you meet in prison…youthful people who can help you in such conditions.”

Festival director Thierry Fremaux expressed his delight at Rasoulof’s arrival, highlighting the joy it brings to “all festival-goers and all freedom-loving Iranians.”

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