Mohammad Rasoulof, winner of the 2020 Berlin Golden Bear for “There Is No Evil,” has been temporarily released from Tehran’s Evin prison after being arrested last July for criticizing the government on social media.
Rasoulof, 50, was incarcerated on July 8 after posting an appeal urging Iranian security forces to stop using weapons during May protests that were prompted by a building collapse in the southwestern city of Abadan. He has now been released for health reasons and is at home, according to several reports confirmed by local sources.
But though he has been formally released, it’s not clear how long Rasoulof will remain a free man.
“My client’s incarceration has been suspended for two weeks for health reasons,” the director’s lawyer Maryam Kianersi told French news agency AFP, adding that he had been “released on Saturday.”
Iran’s Shargh newspaper, which is Iran’s leading reformist publication, reported that Rasoulof has been furloughed from prison but did not provide further information.
Rasoulof’s possibly temporary release follows the release earlier this month of revered fellow filmmaker Jafar Panahi, his close friend, who was released from Tehran’s Evin prison on Feb. 3 after announcing he was going on a hunger strike. Panahi is out on bail and his case will be reviewed in March.
Rasoulof is among Iran’s most prominent directors even though none of his films have screened in Iran where they are banned. In 2011, the year he won two prizes at Cannes with his censorship-themed “Goodbye,” he was sentenced with Panahi to six years in prison and a 20-year ban on filmmaking for alleged anti-regime propaganda. His sentence was later suspended and he was released on bail. In 2017 Iranian authorities confiscated Rasoulof’s passport upon his return from the Telluride Film Festival where his “A Man of Integrity,” about corruption and injustice in Iran, had screened.
Rasoulof was not allowed by Iranian authorities to attend Berlin in 2020. That year, the director’s daughter, Baran Rasoulof, who stars in “There Is No Evil,” picked up his Golden Bear.