Films will be official selections at next week's fest

Cannes is paying tribute to Iranian filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof by adding their new movies to the lineup just days before the fest kicks off on Wednesday.

Jafar’s “In film nist” (This Is Not a Film) is set to unspool as a special screening in the Official Selection on May 20 while Rasoulof’s “Be omid e didar” (Good Bye) will play in Un Certain Regard on May 13.

Their films were “made in semi-clandestine conditions,” the fest said Saturday.

The two helmers, who are appealing pending sentences of six years jail in Iran and a 20-year employment ban for making films that the government claims undermines its authority, are forbidden to travel abroad.

“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 to the fest.”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.”

“Good Bye” centers on a young lawyer in Tehran searching for a visa to leave the country. It stars Leyla Zareh, Fereshteh Sadre Orafai, Shahab Hoseini and Roya Teymourian.

“This Is not a Film,” helmed by Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmas, depicts Panahi’s wait for the verdict of his court appeal while giving a glimpse into the condition of Iranian cinema.

“Mohammad Rasoulof’s film and the conditions under which it was made and Jafar Panahi’s ‘diary’ of the days of his life as an artist not allowed to work are by their very existence an act of resistance to the legal action which affects them. That they sent 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,” declared fest prexy Gilles Jacob and general delegate Thierry Fremaux.

“Cannes is the international institution that protects them. Film professionals from the world over will gather on the Croisette and unite, we are sure, in a sort of self-evident fellowship.”

At Cannes, the Film Directors Guild will also honor Panahi with a Carosse d’Or and screen his 2005 film “Offside” on May 12 at the Croisette theater, followed by a roundtable discussion.

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