Art and culture

Mohammad Rasoulof Earns Cannes Standing Ovation for Seed of Sacred Fig

“The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” Mohammad Rasoulof‘s latest film that he received an eight-year prison sentence from Iranian authorities for making, earned a rapturous 12-minute standing ovation at its Cannes Film Festival premiere on Friday. Rasoulof risked his life by appearing at the Cannes premiere as he fled Iran for Europe on May 13 to avoid going to prison.

There was undeniable applause as the film’s credits began to roll (though it is Variety‘s policy to begin timing the standing ovation once the house lights come up), with Rasoulof tearing up and waving to the balcony. Ali Abbasi, the director of fellow competition title “The Apprentice,” stood next to Rasoulof and encouraged the crowd to keep clapping — not that they needed it, as the crowd’s cheers just seemed to get louder and louder. There was even a sign in the audience reading “Femme! Vie! Liberté!” (“Woman! Life! Freedom!”). All in all, the film earned the biggest standing ovation of the competition titles this year — and at the last minute, as the festival’s closing ceremony is on Saturday.

Rasoulof thanked the crowd in Farsi, expressing hope for a better future in Iran and saying that many actors in the film didn’t have permission to come to Cannes. On the red carpet, Rasoulof — who has previously served prison time in Iran — held up images of Golestani and Zareh, who were unable to leave Iran for the premiere. In an interview with Variety on Thursday, Rasoulof said that Golestani has been arrested by Iranian security services. In addition to his prison sentence, Iranian authorities had been pressuring him to pull “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” from the Cannes Film Festival and harassing the film’s producers and actors.

“The Seed of the Sacred Fig” follows Iman, an “investigating judge in the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, who grapples with mistrust and paranoia as nationwide political protests intensify and his gun mysteriously disappears,” according to its official synopsis. The film stars Soheila Golestani, Missagh Zareh, Mahsa Rostami and Setareh Maleki.

Rasoulof is a Cannes mainstay, having premiered his 2011 film “Goodbye” in the Un Certain Regard section, where he won a directing award; 2013’s “Manuscripts Don’t Burn,” which also played in Un Certain Regard and won the FIPRESCI prize; and 2017’s “A Man of Integrity,” which won Un Certain Regard’s top prize.

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  • Source of information and images “variety

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