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Mohammad Rasoulof Banned From Leaving Iran to Serve on Cannes Jury

Dissident Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof has been banned from leaving Iran to serve as a member of the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard jury, according to a report.

News of the travel ban for the director who was recently released from Tehran’s Evin prison after being arrested last July for criticizing the government on social media, has been reported by the Farsi-language news service of Radio France Internationale (RFI). The report said Rasoulof had been asked to be a member of the Un Certain Regard jury but has been forced to decline.

The Cannes Film Festival did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. actor John C. Reilly will serve as president of the Un Certain Regard jury. The other jury members are French director and screenwriter Alice Winocour, German actor Paula Beer, French-Cambodian director and producer Davy Chou, and Belgian actor Émilie Dequenne.

Rasoulof’s alleged denial of permission to travel comes shortly after revered auteur Jafar Panahi, who had also been recently released from jail, was instead allowed to travel outside Iran, reportedly for a visit to France, on April 25.

Rasoulof is among Iran’s most prominent directors even though none of his films have screened in Iran where they are banned. He is the winner of the 2020 Berlin Golden Bear for “There Is No Evil,” among other prizes.

In 2011, the year he won two awards at Cannes with his censorship-themed “Goodbye,” he was sentenced with Panahi to six years in prison and a 20-year ban on filmmaking for alleged anti-regime propaganda. His sentence was later suspended and he was released on bail. In 2017 Iranian authorities confiscated Rasoulof’s passport upon his return from the Telluride Film Festival where his “A Man of Integrity,” about corruption and injustice in Iran, had screened.

More recently Rasoulof was incarcerated last year on July 8 after posting an appeal urging Iranian security forces to stop using weapons during protests in May 2023 that were prompted by a building collapse in the southwestern city of Abadan. He was released in February for health reasons.

For the director, not being able to leave his country is certainly not a novelty. Rasoulof was not allowed by Iranian authorities to attend Berlin in 2020. That year, the director’s daughter, Baran Rasoulof, who stars in “There Is No Evil,” picked up his Golden Bear.

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