One of the most searing films to emerge out of the 2020 Berlin Film Festival, and the movie that took the event’s top prize, was “There Is No Evil.” The Golden Bear winner directed by Mohammad Rasoulof, who couldn’t attend the festival due to a ban by the Iranian government, finally gets a theatrical release in theaters and in virtual cinemas on May 14 from Kino Lorber. Exclusive to IndieWire, watch the official trailer below.
Here’s the official synopsis: “‘There is No Evil’ is an anthology feature comprised of four stories of men who are each put in front of an unthinkable but simple choice — to follow orders to enforce the death penalty upon others, or not. Whatever they decide, it will directly or indirectly corrode themselves, their relationships, and their entire lives. The humanistic stories offer insight into crucial themes of moral strength and the harshness of the death penalty under an oppressive regime.”
Along with fellow director Jafar Panahi, Rasoulof has been sentenced to jail in the past and Iranian authorities have tried to enforce a 20-year ban to keep him from making movies. This is his sixth feature film, none of which have screened in Iran.
“What I can observe from my own story,” Rasoulof said in an interview with IndieWire out of Berlin, “is that the satisfaction that you receive once you resist oppression and despotism can be higher than the price you have to pay.”
Here’s more from IndieWire’s rave review: “The four stories that comprise ‘There Is No Evil’ involve a range of diverse men and women enmeshed in various hardships impacted by the executions their jobs demand of them. Some of them do it, some of them refuse, but they’re all trapped by the same troublesome quandary. It’s a movie that asks, ‘What would you do?’ by way of implication, then lets a series of hypotheticals take that journey.
“From a dreary opening passage, ‘There Is No Evil’ mutates into a riveting thriller, takes a sharp turn into romance, and winds up with a family drama that brings all the individual components together for a poignant open-ended finale. Along the way, Rasoulof deploys an inspired tonal uncertainty, as each chapter involves a new angle on the emotional stakes at hand. The scope of the storytelling combines ‘Pulp Fiction’ energy with the structural playfulness of Rasoulof’s fellow Iranian auteur Jafar Panahi, but radiates with a narrative urgency all its own.”