Iran: Filmmaker sentenced to prison because of ‘propaganda against the system’ in his movies

13 March 2020
Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof has been sentenced to one year in prison for "spreading propaganda" against the Islamic republic.
Image: Mohammad Rasoulof/ George Roussos on Twitter

13 March 2020

UPDATE Filmmaker sentenced to prison because of ‘propaganda against the system’ in his movies

March 2020: Iranian filmmaker, Mohammad Rasoulof, has been ordered to serve a one-year prison sentence on the charge of “propaganda against the system” based on the content of his three movies, reported The Guardian.

The sentenced includes instruction for Rasolouf to stop creating movies for two years.

The film director’s lawyer says that Rasolouf will not turn himself in and that he will appeal the sentence.

In February 2020 the Iranian government banned Rasoulof from travelling to Berlin for the Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival, reported The Hollywood Reporter. Rasoulof was supposed to attend the festival where his new movie Sheytan vojud nadarad / There Is No Evil premiered on 28 February.

“The sentence wasn’t executed, and I haven’t been put in prison. The travel ban is supposed now to be over but they [the authorities] don’t seem willing to give me my passport back,” Rasolouf told Screen Daily.

There Is No Evil won The Golden Bear for Best Film of the 70th Berlinale.



31 July 2019

Iran: Filmmaker imprisoned for ‘spreading propaganda’

Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof has been sentenced to one year in prison for “spreading propaganda” against the Islamic republicCenter for Human Rights in Iran reported on 24 July 

The sentencing relates to the content of Rasoulof’s films, which allegedly highlighted the “dark picture” of Iranian society and could create despair. 

The filmmaker told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that he has also been banned from leaving the country and faces a ban on “membership of political and social organisations”.  

Rasoulof has 20 days to appeal the sentence but, as he told Center for Human Rights in Iran, he feels “pessimistic” about the fairness of the appeal process.   

The filmmaker’s lawyer, Nasser Zarafshan said that he will appeal the sentencing because “The law says ‘propaganda against the State’ are actions by an individual against the Islamic Republic but challenging the officials and institutions within the framework of the Islamic Republic is not propaganda against the State. It’s criticism.” 

The filmmaker told Center for Human Rights in Iran that the content of his movies, which Iranian authorities consider a threat to the State, is the primary reason for his sentencing. 

“When I was questioned by investigators, I was asked about all my films,” Rasoulof said. “Their main argument was that I have blackened [the State] and that my criticisms are unhealthy and there’s no hope in my films”. 

He further adds that “Then he [the judge] mentioned that I have been awarded by non-Iranian film festivals and that foreign audiences clapped for me; they are the enemies of the State and therefore I’m an enemy of the State.” 

According to Radio Free EuropeRasoulof and director and screenwriter Jafar Panahi were sentenced to six years in prison in 2010 for a documentary on the 2009 disputed presidential elections and the mass protests that followed the vote.  

Center for Human Rights in Iran has translated Panahi’s Instagram post which says that “By throwing him in jail or putting obstacles in front of his efforts to make movies, the State cannot put chains on Mohammad Rasoulof’s thoughts.” 

Panahi further adds that “he is the type of filmmaker who will leave prison with new stories to tell”. 


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محمد رسول اف می گوید : «از قاضی محترم پرسیدم آیا فیلم‌هایم را دیدید؟ گفت نه. گفتم پس چطور می‌خواهید قضاوت کنید. گفت تحلیلی که از سوی دستگاه‌های امنیتی درباره فیلم های من شده برایش کافی است». همین جواب قاضی نشانه عدم استقلال قوه قضائیه است. چهل سال است، قضات، چشم بسته حکم های سنگین فرمایشی، علیه فعالین حقوق بشر ، فرهنگ و مردم صادر کرده اند. این شیوه دیکتاتورهاست. اما تاریخ هرگز و به این گستردگی شاهد به اسارت کشیدن اندیشه نبوده و یا حداقل تاریخ سینمای جهان چنین فیلم سوزانی به خود ندیده است. به راستی چرا حکومتی که ده ها فرستنده تلویریونی و رادیویی و ارتش سایبری گسترده در اختیار دارد؛ اجازه یک رسانه مستقل را نمی دهد. حکومتی که خروارها فیلم تبلیغاتی می سازد، چرا از یک فیلمساز مستقل و یک فیلم باخاصیت می ترسد؟ چگونه ایدئولوژی که ادعای جهانی شدن و محق بودن دارد؛ در برابر صدای پرسشگر یک فیلمساز منتقد؛ به جای پاسخگو بودن لبه ی تیز شمشیرش را نشان می دهد؟ آیا جز این است که پایه های سست بنیاد حکومت، توان کوچکترین لرزشی را ندارد و تنها راه چاره را بگیر و ببند می بیند و می پندارد که اینگونه چند صباحی بیشتر عمر خواهد کرد؟ اما باید بگویم با یک روز زندانی کردن یک فیلمساز و حتی توقیف یک فیلم؛ بذر ده ها فیلمساز و فیلم جدید و مستقل پاشیده می شود. با زندانی کردن محمد رسول‌اف و سنگ اندازی در مسیر فیلمسازیش، حکومت نمی‌تواند ذهن او را به زنجیر بکشد. او فیلم‌سازی است که با داستان‌های تازه از زندان باز خواهد گشت. این زمستان، هر چند استخوان سوز؛ اما خواهد گذشت. تاریخ؛ داستان رسوایی شما را خواهد نوشت. در این شرایط تنها فیلمسازان مستقل و اندیشمندان آزادیخواه ایران حامی همکار بی پناه خود می توانند بود. سکوت نکنیم که روزی این ابر تیره بر بام خانه همه خواهد ایستاد. #محمدرسول_اف #محمد_رسول_اف #زندان #زندانی #ایران #ایرانی #جعفر_پناهیk

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To support artistic freedom of expression in Iran and stand by Mohammad Rasoulof and other artists, sign the petition calling for an immediate release of Rasoulof to help him continue his work.   

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