Iranian authorities question actors, crew of film due to be shown at Cannes Film Festival, ban them from leaving country

Iran’s authorities summoned for questioning crew members and actors of an Iranian film due to be shown in the main competition at next month’s Cannes Film Festival, their lawyer says on Tuesday.

The people working on “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” by acclaimed director Mohammad Rasoulof, were pressured to have it withdrawn from the festival, while the actors were banned from leaving the country, lawyer Babak Paknia posts on social media site X, formerly Twitter.

Rasoulof, who won the Golden Bear, the Berlin Film Festival’s top prize, in 2020 with his anti-capital punishment film “There Is No Evil”, had himself been detained in July 2022.

He was released in late 2023 after anti-government protests that began in September 2022 subsided.

Paknia writes on X that some crew members had been “interrogated” this week and last week, while actors on the film had also been questioned and barred from leaving the country.

“After several hours of interrogation, they were asked to tell the director to remove the film from the Cannes Festival,” he says.

He adds it was not clear if Rasoulof would be allowed to leave Iran to attend the festival.

The subject matter of the film and its cast remain under wraps, according to film industry media. It is not immediately clear how many people working on it were interrogated.

Appearances at the Cannes Festival have in recent years been increasingly contentious for Iranian directors and actors. Prominent director Saeed Roustaee was sentenced to six months in prison for the screening of his film “Leila’s Brothers” at the 2022 festival.

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