Films by jailed Iranian directors to be screened at Cannes

Cannes: Jailed Iranian filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof`s films, which were made in "semi-clandestine conditions", will be screened at the ongoing Cannes International Film Festival.

Rasoulof`s ‘Be Omid e Didar’ (‘Good Bye’) is in the Official Selection, Un Certain Regard and will be shown May 14. Starring Leyla Zareh, Fereshteh Sadreorafai, Shahab Hosseini and Roya Teymorian, "Good Bye" is the story of a young lawyer in Tehran in search of a visa to leave the country, which is what the director himself did during the winter of 2010-2011, said a press statement on the Cannes official website.

Panahi`s ‘In Film Nist’ (This is not a Film), which he co-directed with Mojtaba Mirtahmas, a documentary filmmaker and former assistant director, will have a special screening May 20 in the Official Selection. The film tells how, for months, Panahi waited for the verdict of his court appeal.

Through the depiction of a day in his life, the film offers an overview of the current situation of Iranian cinema.

"The reality of being alive and the dream of keeping cinema alive motivated us to go through the existing limitations in Iranian cinema. Our problems are also all of our assets. Understanding this promising paradox helped us not to lose hope, and to be able to go on since we believe wherever in the world that we live, we are going to face problems, big or small. But it is our duty not to be defeated and to find solutions," Panahi said in a letter to the festival.

He will also be awarded the Carrosse d`Or - the Golden Coach prize by the French Film Director`s Society (SRF) at the event.

Both the directors are currently subject to legal proceedings in the country which earned them a sentence of six years in prison and a 20-year employment ban, to which they have appealed,

Gilles Jacob and Thierry Fremaux, organisers of the festival, applauded their courage.

"Mohammad Rasoulof`s film and the conditions under which it was made, Jafar Panahi`s `diary` of the days of his life as an artist not allowed to work, are by their very existence a resistance to the legal action which affects them," they said in a joint statement.

"That they send them to Cannes, at the same time, the same year, when they face the same fate, is an act of courage along with an incredible artistic message. Cannes is the international institution which protects them. Film professionals from world over will gather on the Croisette and unite, we are sure, in a sort of self-evident fellowship."

The festival runs from May 11 to 22.


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