Persecuted Iranian director wins award in Cannes

Increased support. Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof (2nd L) and cast members (L-R) Soudabeh Beizae, Nasim Adabi and Mohammad Akhlaghirad from “Lerd” (“A Man of Integrity”) are seen before the film won the Certain Regard award at the 70th Cannes Film Festival, on May 19. (Reuters)

2017/06/04 Issue: 109 Page: 22

Cannes - A movie by an Iranian who was arrested for his work in Iran won the Certain Regard competi­tion at the Cannes Film Festival, bolstering the country’s film-makers’ reputation for defy­ing the censors to make high-qual­ity films.

“Lerd” (“A Man of Integrity”), filmed in Iran but unlikely ever to be shown there due to censorship, is a tense drama about a man per­secuted by powerful economic and political forces who refuses to bribe his way out of trouble.

Writer-director Mohammad Ra­soulof, 45, was arrested alongside acclaimed director Jafar Panahi in 2010 and sentenced to jail. He is free on bail and has continued to make films that explore political and moral corruption.

The Certain Regard award, intro­duced in 1998, is given to encour­age innovative and daring works. Clutching the scroll he had just been awarded on May 27, Rasou­lof said he hoped the prize would make things easier for him to make films in Iran.

“I love Iran but it’s like an alco­holic father, sometimes it hits me,” he said.

Rasoulof’s win comes three months after Asghar Farhadi won the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award for “The Sales­man,” also shot in Iran, and recog­nises him as a major force in inter­national cinema.

“International support has really helped all film-makers and espe­cially me by stopping the pressure they were putting on us,” Rasoulof said earlier in the festival.

Rasoulof said Iranian authorities had given him a permit to shoot “A Man of Integrity” only after he signed a paper promising not to make it “too dark.” He has not been granted permission to screen the film in Iran so, like his previous five features, it is unlikely to be seen there except via unauthorised cop­ies.

Variety called “A Man of Integ­rity” “a tense, enraging drama about corruption and injustice… a scathing critique of contemporary Iranian society… (that) manages to resonate on both specific and uni­versal levels.”


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