Films By Imprisoned Iranian Directors Added to Cannes Lineup (Cannes)

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Gilles Jacob and Thierry Fremaux have raised the bars at this year's Festival de Cannes by announcing last-minute entries to the official selection from imprisoned Iranian filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, the fest said Saturday.

The directors will send their films made in semi-clandestine conditions to Cannes despite a six-year prison sentence and 20-year employment ban. "The reality of being alive and the dream of keeping cinema alive motivated us to go through the existing limitations in Iranian cinema," Panahi said in a letter sent to the Festival on May 5th.

In Film Nist (This is Not a Film), directed by Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmas, will premiere on May 20th as a Special Screening in the Official Selection. This is Not a Film tells Panahi's story of waiting for months for the verdict of his court appeal. Panahi added in his letter: "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."

Rasoulof's Be Omid e Didar (Good Bye) will screen on May 13th in the Un Certain Regard category. The film tells the story of a young lawyer in Tehran in search of a visa to leave the country, based on the director's experience during the winter of 2010-2011.

"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," Jacob and Fremaux said in a statement, adding: "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 de Cannes kicks off on Wednesday, May 11th.

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