German film festival Berlinale calls for release of award-winning Iranian director | News | DW

Germany’s Berlinale film festival on Saturday expressed shock at the arrest in Iran of Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof, who won the festival’s top prize in 2020.

Rasoulof was arrested on Friday, along with his colleague Mostafa Al-Ahmad, for a social media post. They were accused of incitement to the people.

“It is shocking that artists are imprisoned for their peaceful opposition to violence,” said Mariette Rissenbeek and Carlo Chatrian, who manage the Berlinale.

“We demand that the Iranian authorities immediately release the two directors,” they added.

Regime Critical Director

Rasoulof won the Berlinale’s Golden Bear for Best Film in 2020 for his production ‘There Is No Evil’. His film deals with social issues in Iran and was seen as a critique of the theocratic regime.

The director divides his time between Tehran and the German city of Hamburg. Although he was banned from working in the industry by the Iranian government, he continued to make films.

His passport was confiscated in 2017 after his film “A Man of Integrity” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in France. This meant he was unable to leave Iran and travel to Berlin to accept his Golden Bear in 2020.

Protests against deadly building collapse

The social media post that got the two artists into trouble involved a joint letter calling on security forces to ‘lay down their arms’ in response to mass protests in the southwestern town of Abadan at the following a building collapse on May 23 that killed 43 people. people.

Protesters demanded that those responsible for the collapse be prosecuted. Police cracked down on dissent with tear gas, warning shots and arrests.

Public anger has also been stoked by rising prices, with some blaming the regime’s failure to make a breakthrough to end US sanctions by joining the 2015 nuclear deal.

“Amidst the heartbreaking incident in the Metropol of Abadan, [the filmmakers] have been involved in inciting unrest and disrupting the psychological safety of society,” Iran’s state-run IRA news agency said.

A prominent government spokesman and former minister, Mostafa Tajzadeh, was also arrested on Friday on similar charges.

ab/jcg (dpa, KNA, AFP, Reuters)

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