Berlin Golden Bear Winner Mohammad Rasoulof Temporarily Released From Prison in Iran
Dissident director Mohammad Rasoulof, whose There Is No Evil won the 2020 Berlinale Golden Bear for best film, has been temporarily released from prison in Iran on medical grounds.
There Is No Evil producer Farzad Pak confirmed Rasoulof’s release to The Hollywood Reporter.
“Mohammad was released on bail for medical reasons [but] there are still other accusations [against him] that the course hasn’t made a decision on yet,” said Pak. “They [the court] might take him back [into jail] or leave him in limbo.”
Rasoulof was released on Saturday and is currently resting at his home in Tehran. The director’s lawyer, Maryam Kianersi, told French News Agency AFPT that his incarceration has been suspended for two weeks.
Rasoulof was incarcerated last July after posting on social media calling on Iranian security forces to stop their violent attacks on protesters who were demonstrating in the southwestern city of Abadan. Shortly after his arrest, Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old who had been detained by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the country’s mandatory hijab law, died while in custody, sparking nation-wide protests. The Iranian government has tried, brutally, to crack down on the demonstrations and suppress any criticism of the regime online.
Rasoulof’s release follows that of fellow filmmaker, and Rasoulof’s close friend, Jafar Panahi, who was let out of Tehran’s Evin prison on Feb. 3 after announcing he was going on a hunger strike. Panahi had been imprisoned after going to inquire after Rasoulof and fellow imprisoned filmmaker Mostafa Al-Ahmad.
Both Panahi and Rasoulof were sentenced, in 2011, to six years in prison and given a 20-year ban on filmmaking for their allegedly spreading “anti-regime” propaganda. Rasoulof’s sentence was later suspended and he was released on bail. But after the festival tour of his 2017 drama A Man of Integrity, which looks at corruption and injustice in Iran, and which won Cannes’ Un Certain Regard prize for best film, Rasoulof had his passport confiscated and was forbidden from leaving the country.
He shot There Is No Evil in secret and smuggled the film out of the country. Rasoulof was banned by Iranian authorities from attending Berlin in 2020, so his daughter, Baran Rasoulof, who stars in the There Is No Evil, accepted the Golden Bear on his behalf.