Berlin: Iranian Director Banned From Traveling to Festival

THERE IS NO EVIL Still 1 - Berlin International Film Festival - H 2020
Courtesy of Cosmopol Film

Mohammad Rasoulof will not be allowed to leave Iran to attend the world premiere of his competition entry 'There Is No Evil.'

Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof will not be attending the Berlin Film Festival for the premiere of his new film, There Is No Evil, which screens in the festival's competition, after the Iranian government re-enforced a travel ban on the 48-year-old director.

Rasoulof told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday that Tehran has refused to issue him a passport, making it impossible for him to leave the country. The government seized Rasoulof's passport in 2017 after the director returned from the Cannes film festival, where his drama A Man of Integrity won best film in the Un Certain Regard section. Rasoulof also has been sentenced to a year in prison after being convicted of “spreading propaganda” against the Islamic republic, a charge that is often brought against intellectuals and critics of the Iranian establishment. He has not yet been imprisoned. The director remains under a work ban and was forced to direct There Is No Evil in secret.

“I am sorry that I will not be able to come to Berlin to watch the film alongside the audiences,” Rasoulof wrote in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “However the right to choose between being present or absent at the festival is simply not mine. Imposing such restrictions very clearly exposes the intolerant and despotic nature of the Iranian government.”

There Is No Evil features four interlocking stories that are all variations on the theme of to what extent individual freedom can be expressed under a despotic regime.

The film premieres at the Berlin Film Festival on Feb. 28.