Directors Guild Voices Support for Mohammad Rasoulof After Fleeing Iran: ‘No Director Should Fear Imprisonment’

Directors Guild of America president Lesli Linka Glatter released a statement Wednesday in support of Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, who will be attending the Cannes premiere of his latest film “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” after fleeing his home country to avoid imprisonment for alleged anti-government propaganda.

“The Directors Guild of America strongly supports director Mohammad Rasoulof in his flight from unjust sentencing and we stand in solidarity with him as he seeks safe harbor. No Director should fear imprisonment, physical punishment or fines for exercising their right to express themselves artistically,” Glatter said.

“It is imperative that filmmakers be allowed to freely pursue their calling without fear of persecution. Creative freedom is crucial to liberty, art, culture and human rights, and we stand together with the world’s film community to protect this fundamental right and support director Mohammad Rasoulof in his fight for freedom of expression,” the statement continued.

“The Seed of a Sacred Fig” follows a paranoid judge in the Revolutionary Court in Tehran dealing with the fallout from recent nationwide protests. The film, like others directed by Rasoulof, has been banned from screening in Iran by the government and the director was sentenced to eight years in prison and flogging for his latest work.

Rasoulof, a recipient of the Berlin Film Festival’s Golden Bear, had previously been sentenced to six years in prison and banned from filmmaking for 20 years, but the sentence was pardoned last year due to health concerns. The six-year sentence was replaced with a two-year ban from leaving Iran that caused Rasoulof to be unable to attend last year’s Cannes as a member of the festival jury. But after the new prison sentence, the filmmaker fled Iran in secret.

“If geographical Iran suffers beneath the boots of your religious tyranny, cultural Iran is alive in the common minds of millions of Iranians who were forced to leave Iran due to your brutality and no power can impose its will on it. From today, I am a resident of cultural Iran,” Rasoulof said in an Instagram video posted earlier this month of him crossing the Iranian border.

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