Berlin Golden Bear Winner Mohammad Rasoulof Summoned to Serve Prison Sentence in Iran (Report)

Mohammad Rasoulof — Getty — H 2020

The director, whose 'There Is No Evil' won Berlin's top prize Saturday, was convicted of “propaganda” against the state for his previous films and sentenced to a one-year prison sentence.

Mohammad Rasoulof, the Iranian director whose latest film, There Is No Evil, won the Golden Bear for best film at the Berlin International Film Festival on Saturday, has been summoned to serve a one-year prison sentence in Tehran, according to reports.

Nasser Zarafshan, a lawyer for Rasoulof, told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the Iranian authorities have ordered the director to turn himself in. Rasoulof was found guilty of “propaganda against the system” for three of his previous films. Zarafshan said Rasoulof would appeal the order, especially given the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in Iran. Authorities have already sent 54,000 prisoners on temporary furlough over concerns the virus could spread through the country's prison system.

London-based Iran International TV also reported the news of Rasoulof's summons Wednesday. The Hollywood Reporter was unable to independently confirm the story. Official Iranian media has not yet commented on the case.

Rasoulof's There Is No Evil, a series of four stories dealing with personal freedom under tyranny and a direct condemnation of Iran's policy of executing political dissidents, premiered Friday, Feb. 28, at the 70th Berlinale. On Saturday it won Berlin's Golden Bear for best film.

Rasoulof was unable to attend Berlin. Since 2017 he has been banned from leaving Iran and has been given a 20-year ban on filmmaking for the alleged anti-regime propaganda contained in his movies. There Is No Evil was shot entirely in secret and made as four separate short films to avoid attracting the attention of the authorities.

Berlinale organizers left an empty chair and name sign for Rasoulof at the news conference for his film Friday. Rasoulof's daughter, Baran, accepted the Golden Bear on his behalf.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter before the festival, Rasoulof said on the final day of shooting There Is No Evil he received a text message from the authorities rejecting appeal of his prison sentence. But that “I am still waiting to see when this sentence will be executed.”