Iranian filmmaker Saeed Roustaee has been sentenced to six months in prison in Iran after presenting his latest film, Leila’s Brothers, at the Cannes festival, accused of making propaganda against the Iranian regime. The organization of the festival considered the fact this Wednesday a “serious violation of freedom of expression.” The famous director Martin Scorsese has also supported the petition against Roustaee’s imprisonment: “Please sign this petition to bring justice to Saeed,” Scorsese wrote on the Instagram social network, referring to an international campaign to collect signatures in favor of of his acquittal.
Roustaee, a 34-year-old director known for films like 2021’s The Law of Tehran, a detective story about the drug business and its repression by the Iranian state, submitted Leia’s Brothers to the official Cannes competition in 2022. The film tells the story of a poor family in an Iran on the verge of collapse, in the context of a deep economic crisis, international sanctions and social protests, and received the jury prize from the International Press Federation in May 2022 cinematographic Subsequently, he was banned in that country for having “breaking the rules by participating without permission (…) in Cannes and then in (the) Munich festival.” The Tehran Revolutionary Court has sentenced Roustaee and the film’s producer, Javad Norouzbeigui, to six months in prison for “contributing to opposition propaganda against the Islamic system.”
A frame from ‘Leila’s family’
“Like many professionals in the world, the Cannes festival expresses its support for all those who suffer violence and repression for recording and disseminating their works,” they say from the organization. According to the reformist Iranian newspaper Etemad, the court ruled that the filmmakers will only serve one twentieth of their sentence, that is, nine days, while the rest “will be suspended for five years,” a period in which they will not be able to carry out “activities linked to crime committed or communicate with people active in the cinema sector”. They were also given 20 days to appeal the sentence. The country, despite everything, has a prosperous film industry, from which figures such as Yafar Panahi or Asghar Farhadi, winners of awards all over the planet, are shown.
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