Iranian film director Mohammad Rasoulof has been summoned to serve a prison sentence in Iran, three days after his film “There is no Evil” won the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear, according to his lawyer and a report by London-based Iran International TV.
The dissident director’s lawyer Nasser Zarafshan told The Associated Press that Rasoulof on Wednesday received a text message summoning him to serve a one-year jail sentence. He added that Rasoulof will not turn himself into authorities, and will instead file an appeal.
Rasoulof is one of his country’s most prominent directors, even though none of his films have screened in Iran, where they are banned.
In 2011, the year he won two prizes at Cannes with his censorship-themed “Goodbye,” Rasoulof was sentenced with fellow director Jafar 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.
Prior to the Berlin Film Festival, the director told Variety in an interview that while shooting the film he received a text message “that informed me that the appeal confirmed the sentence,” adding that he was “still waiting for another text to inform me (about when) this sentence is going to be executed.”
Rasoulof was not allowed by Iranian authorities to attend Berlin. The director’s daughter, Baran Rasoulof, who stars in “There is no Evil,” on Saturday accepted the fest’s top prize on her father’s behalf.
There has been no immediate Iranian state media report about Rasoulof’s summons to serve jail time.
Speaking to Variety about his latest film, which consists of four tales that deal with the use of the death penalty in Iran and are more generally about disobedience and freedom Rasoulof said: “When you resist against a power – what is the responsibility that you take? Do you take responsibility for your own resistance, for saying no?”
“And what’s the price that you have to pay for that? If I take my own example, I can say that by resisting…I’ve deprived myself of many aspects of life, but I’m glad that I’m resisting.”