Urgent call for the freedom of Mohammad Rasoulof

10 March 2020

The filmmaker is currently facing incarceration in Iran

Under our Filmmakers at Risk initiative, International Film Festival Rotterdam, European Film Academy (EFA), and International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) are protesting the imminent incarceration of Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof. Also backing the call for his freedom are the Deutsche Filmakademie, Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, Filmfest Hamburg, the Netherlands Film Fund (Filmfonds), and the Accademia del Cinema Italiano.

Mohammad Rasoulof, having shown A Man of Integrity at IFFR 2018 and winning awards at Cannes, recently won the Golden Bear at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival for his latest work. There Is No Evil, like his previous films, casts a critical eye on the consequences of life under authoritarian rule.

Rasoulof has just been summoned by the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Offenses Relating to Media and Culture to serve one year in prison. On July 23, 2019, the Iranian Revolutionary Court had sentenced the filmmaker to one year in prison and a two-year prohibition against working as a director for alleged propaganda against the government, in addition to imposing a two-year ban on leaving the country and getting involved in any social or political activity.

Mohammad Rasoulof: "Summoning me to serve my prison sentence only reveals a small fraction of the intolerance and anger that is characteristic of the Iranian regime’s response to criticism. Many cultural activists are in prison for criticising the government. The widespread and uncontrollable spread of the Covid-19 virus in Iranian prisons seriously endangers their lives. These conditions call for an immediate response from the international community”.

We strongly protest against the summons of Mohammad Rasoulof and urgently call on the Iranian authorities to ensure his safety and health. We also ask for the charges against Mohammad Rasoulof to be retracted and the travel ban against him to be lifted immediately and unconditionally and call on festivals around the world, cinemas and all artists to do the same.

Wim Wenders, President the European Film Academy declares: "Our colleague Mohammad Rasoulof is an artist who keeps telling us about a reality we would otherwise know little about. His Golden Bear winning film There Is No Evil is a deeply humane portrait of people in extreme situations, situations no human should be forced to experience. We need voices like that of Mohammad Rasoulof, voices defending human rights, freedom and dignity."