Secret Submissions: Iranian Filmmakers Send Films to Cannes Despite Ban
Two entries to the Cannes International Film Festival this year arrived in an unusual way: Jafar Panahi submitted This is Not a Film on a USB drive hidden inside a cake; Mohammad Rasoulof also submitted his film Goodbye clandestinely. Despite their unusual methods, Iranian filmmakers Panahi and Rasoulof received the “Carrosse d’Or” (Golden Coach) and a prize for best director respectively, although neither individual could be present at Cannes to receive the awards in person.
Last December Panahi and Rasoulof were independently sentenced to six years in prison and subject to a 20-year ban on filmmaking for allegedly creating anti-regime propaganda. The two were making a film in Panahi’s home about an Iranian family during the time of the 2009 protests against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection; they did not have permission from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance to create such a film and spent time in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison before being released on bail.
Panahi and Rasoulof are attempting to appeal their prison sentences, but both are still banned from leaving Iran.
This is Not a Film documents Panahi’s life in his luxurious Tehran apartment as he waits for the chance to appeal his six-year sentence.
Rasoulof’s Goodbye earned him the best director award in the “Un Certain Regard” category. Rasoulof creates the fictional story of Noura, a female lawyer who wants to escape Iran after the government revokes her license as punishment for her human rights activism.
Read an interview with author Shahla Talebi about her experiences in an Iranian prison.
Read about one woman’s fight against stoning, an interview with Asieh Amini.