Iran releases award-winning filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof after 6 months

Director was detained for criticizing the government’s crackdown on protests in the southwestern city of Abadan over a deadly building collapse

Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof during a photocall for the film 'Lerd' at the 70th Cannes Film Festival, May 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/Valery Hache)
Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof during a photocall for the film 'Lerd' at the 70th Cannes Film Festival, May 19, 2017. (AFP Photo/Valery Hache)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran has released an award-winning filmmaker more than six months after arresting him for criticizing the government, a pro-reform newspaper reported Monday.

Mohammad Rasoulof, whose 2020 film, “There is No Evil,” won the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival, is one of several prominent artists, athletes and other celebrities detained in recent months for criticizing authorities.

He was arrested in July for criticizing the government’s crackdown on protests in the southwestern city of Abadan over a deadly building collapse. Two months later, nationwide protests broke out after a 22-year-old woman died in the custody of the country’s morality police.

The Shargh newspaper, which is associated with the country’s reform movement, said Rasoulof had recently been furloughed from prison and was formally released, without specifying the dates or providing further information. There was no official comment.

Earlier this month, Iran released famed director Jafar Panahi, who was arrested in July after inquiring about the detention of Rasoulof and another colleague. Authorities also released Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti on bail, after she was detained for criticizing the crackdown on the latest protests.

Iranians took to the streets over the September death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish Iranian woman who was detained by the morality police for allegedly violating the country’s strict Islamic dress code. The protests escalated into calls for the overthrow of the country’s ruling clerics, marking one of the biggest challenges they have faced since coming to power in the 1979 revolution.

Iranians gather at the site where a ten-storey building collapsed as rescue operations continue in the southwestern city of Abadan on May 24, 2022. (TASNIM NEWS/AFP)

At least 529 protesters have been killed and nearly 20,000 arrested since those protests began, according to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has closely monitored the unrest. Iranian authorities have not released official figures for those killed or arrested.

“There Is No Evil,” which tells four stories loosely connected to the use of the death penalty in Iran, won the Golden Bear prize at Berlin in 2020. Rasoulof wasn’t there to accept the award due to a travel ban imposed on him by Iranian authorities.

Most Popular
read more: