Iran filmmaker gets standing ovation for secret film at Cannes

Fri May 24, 2013 1:10pm EDT
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By Mike Davidson

CANNES (Reuters) - An Iranian director who was jailed for anti-government propaganda in 2010 emerged at the Cannes film festival on Friday to premiere a new film about state oppression that he shot in secret in his home country.

Mohammad Rasoulof was found guilty of "actions and propaganda against the system" after trying to make a documentary about the unrest that followed the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.

He was jailed for six years and banned from making films and leaving Iran for 20 years. But the sentence was later cut to one year on appeal, and the travel and film bans were lifted.

His new film "Dast-Neveshtehaa Nemisoosand" (Manuscripts Don't Burn) received a standing ovation at a press screening in the French Riviera resort of Cannes on Friday.

Rasoulof said it was based on the real-life story of 21 Iranian writers and academics travelling on a bus who survived a botched attempt on their lives, which he described as a "dark episode" in the Iranian intellectual community.

It focuses particularly on one author secretly writing his memoirs about his time as a political prisoner and the authorities' attempts to destroy his work.

Rasoulof said the film would never be shown in Iran due to its subject matter. He did not seek a permit to shoot it, knowing it would be refused, and struggled to get a cast and crew together.

"It took us two years in order to get together those individuals who could do the performing and also who would accept to do this and cooperate with us," Rasoulof told Reuters television in an interview in a garden near Cannes' waterfront.   Continued...

Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof poses during a photocall for the film "Dast-Neveshtehaa Nemisoosand" (Manuscripts Don't Burn) at the 66th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 24, 2013. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau