Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, winner of the Berlinale Golden Bear for There Is No Evil, along with documentary filmmaker Mostafa Al-Ahmad have been arrested in Iran for posting a statement on social media urging members of the Iranian security forces to lay down their weapons..
Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported that the filmmakers were taking into custody for posting on social media urging members of the Iranian security forces to lay down their weapons using the hashtag #put_your_gun_down. The hashtag is a reference to the violent crackdown during the unrest following a building collapse in the southwestern city of Abadan that killed at least 41 people in May.
International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR) issued a statement calling on the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mohamad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad.
Statement from International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR):
The Iranian authorities have arrested two filmmakers over an appeal they posted on social media speaking out against the unproportionate repression of civil protestors.
According to Iran’s news agency IRNA, the award-winning filmmaker Mohamad Rasoulof and documentary filmmaker, writer and researcher Mostafa Al-Ahmad were taken into custody for posting a statement on social media urging members of the Iranian security forces to lay down their weapons.
The hashtag #put_your_gun_down is a reference to the violent crackdown during the unrest following a building collapse in the southwestern city of Abadan that killed at least 41 people earlier this year.
The report does not elaborate when the two were arrested. At least 70 Iranian filmmakers and movie industry workers had signed the appeal.
Rasoulofs passport had been confiscated after his 2017 film A MAN OF INTEGRITY premiered at Cannes, where it won the top prize in the “Un Certain Regard” section of the festival. In 2020 he won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival for THERE IS NO EVIL which, like his previous films, casts a critical eye on the consequences of life under authoritarian rule.
Shortly after receiving the award he was sentenced to a year in prison for “propaganda against the system.” He was also banned from making films and traveling abroad. Following his release in 2021, he has now been re-arrested.
A statement published on Kinolorber (Rasoulof’s US distributor) condems the arrest while revealing that the two filmmakers are currently being held in an unknown location.
ICFR calls on the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mohamad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad and we encourage all film and culture institutions around the world to do the same.
Statement: Berlinale Protests Against the Arrest of “Golden Bear” Winner Mohammad Rasoulof And His Fellow Director Mostafa Al-Ahmad
The Berlin International Film Festival was dismayed to learn of the imprisonment of the renowned Iranian directors Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad. Rasoulof’s film There Is No Evil was awarded the “Golden Bear” for Best Film at the Berlinale in 2020. In his films, Mohammad Rasoulof focuses on the social situation in his home country. Both directors are currently accused of having prepared a public call to action against violence.
The Berlinale is fundamentally committed to freedom of expression and freedom of the arts. The festival therefore protests against the imprisonment of the two directors.
“We are deeply concerned about the arrest of Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad. It’s shocking that artists are taken into custody because of their peaceful endeavors against violence”, say the Berlinale directors, Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian.