Iranian filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad arrested

His producing partners say he and his colleague Mostafa Al-Ahmad have been “moved to an unknown location”.

Mohammad Rasoulof, the Golden Bear-winning director of “There Is No Evil” and outspoken critic of Iran’s authoritarian government, was arrested on Friday alongside filmmaker Mostafa Al-Ahmad.

Since returning to Iran in 2017, Rasoulof has been banned from making films and from traveling outside the country after being accused of “propaganda against the system” for his provocative films. He was also sentenced to a year in prison, a charge he was appealing before the arrest. The Associated Press reported on Friday that the filmmakers were arrested for their recent social media posts criticizing the government.

Kaveh Farnam and Farzad Pak, two of Rasoulof’s Iranian producers, released a statement via distributor Kino Lorber on Twitterwho condemned the arrest while revealing that the two filmmakers are currently being held at an unknown location.

“On Friday July 8, Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad, respected and dedicated Iranian filmmakers, were arrested from their homes in a coordinated and brutal attack under false pretences and transferred to an unknown location,” the statement said. “As we continue to strongly condemn the authorities for their disregard for fundamental human rights and civil liberties and the continued repression and pressure inflicted on committed and independent Iranian filmmakers, we demand the immediate and unconditional release of our colleagues. We ask for the support of artists and filmmakers around the world for the release of imprisoned artists.

This is not Rasoulof’s first contact with the Iranian government. The filmmaker previously risked his safety by writing an open letter in May that accused the government of raiding filmmakers’ homes.

In a 2020 interview with Eric Kohn of IndieWire, Rasoulof spoke about the Iranian government’s resistance to any film that challenges the status quo, despite its promotion of generic comedies and state-funded military propaganda films.

“There’s so much money pumped into that part of the industry that they don’t have any box office worries because the government wants them to exist,” Rasoulof said. “They are totally financed by military and paramilitary services specifically intended for the construction of propaganda films.”

Yet despite opposition from the country’s authoritarian government, Rasoulof continued to fight to create empowering art that speaks the truth about life in Iran.

“What I can observe from my own story,” he said, “is that the satisfaction you receive once you resist oppression and despotism can be greater than the price you have to pay.”

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