Mohammad Rasoulof revealed he was invited to serve on the 2023 Cannes Un Certain Regard jury but was forced to turn down the spot due to a travel ban from his home nation of Iran.
Per Radio France Internationale (RFI), Rasoulof was prevented from leaving Iran to attend the French festival. RFI also reported that Cannes organizers are still trying to provide conditions for Rasoulof to be in attendance. The director formerly received the Best Director award in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes in 2011 for “Goodbye” and won the FIPRESCI prize in 2013 for “Manuscripts Don’t Burn,” followed by the Un Certain Regard award for “A Man of Integrity” in 2017.
The 2023 Cannes Un Certain Regard jury will be overseen by jury president John C. Reilly and consists of French director and screenwriter Alice Winocour, German actress Paula Beer, Franco-Cambodian director and producer Davy Chou, and Belgian actress Émilie Dequenne.
Rasoulof has been imprisoned multiple times since 2008 and has not been allowed to leave Iran since 2017, according to the order of the judiciary of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Rasoulof has continued his film career, winning the Golden Bear Award at the 2020 Berlinale for “There Is No Evil.” However, the filmmaker also could not attend that festival due to a similar Iranian government ban. Rasoulof was arrested again in July 2022 for posting statements criticizing government-sanctioned violence against protesters. Iranian officials detained the director alongside Jafar Panahi, who was released from prison in March 2023 following a hunger strike and whom Rasoulof supported during Panahi’s incarceration. Panahi has since been able to travel outside of Iran for the first time in 14 years, flying to France on April 25, according to RFI sources.
Rasoulof was released in February 2023 from the Evin jail in Tehran after being transferred to a hospital for treatment and later pardoned and released. Rasoulof was sentenced to one year of penal servitude and a two-year ban from leaving Iran on the charge of “propaganda against the regime,” according to his lawyer.