Aug 19 (Reuters) – Iranian cinema directors have scoffed at the six-month suspended prison sentence handed down to Saeed Roustai and his producer for showing their film without authorization at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Eruption of nationwide protests.
They added that the international reaction to the sentence earlier this week was laughable.
„This is the strangest judicial punishment in the history of Iranian cinema,” the Iranian Cinema Directors Association said in an Instagram post.
It said the film „Leila’s Brothers” was approved by the government and that the Iranian government itself had participated in Cannes for many years. „Such a strange sentence is a futile attempt to humiliate this young and intelligent filmmaker of Iranian cinema,” the association said.
Roustai and Javad Norusbegi have enjoyed extensive government funding throughout their careers.
Several independent filmmakers said they saw the sentence as a distraction from the upcoming anniversary of Mahza Amini’s September 16, 2022 death in custody. She was arrested for allegedly violating the dress code and her death sparked nationwide protests against the Islamic Republic.
„The punishment is a joke. They (authorities) want us to forget Mahza’s anniversary,” filmmaker Mahnaz Mohammadi told Reuters.
He added that the reaction of the international filmmakers was laughter as they fell into the authorities’ trap of overemphasizing punishment.
Filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola shared a petition calling for „justice” for Roustai and Norusbeki.
Roustai, 34, and Norusbeki, 57, will serve only one-twentieth of their sentences, or nine days. According to the reformist Etemad newspaper, the rest will be suspended for five years.
During their period of suspension, the defendants are required to take a film-making course on „Protection of National and Ethical Interests”. They are also not allowed to meet other cinematographers.
„Please, Mr. Scorsese! For a six-month suspended sentence, don’t distract attention from Mahza’s anniversary and the day-by-day violations of women’s rights,” an Iranian film director asked. Also identified.
[email protected] Editing by Frances Kerry
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