The iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof was sentenced Tuesday to one year of imprisonment and two years prohibition from leaving the country. It also bans engaging in “any activity of social or political”, informs on Wednesday a press release from ARP Selection, the distributor of his work in France.

The director was already private since September 2017 the possibility to “circulate” freely, to “work” and travel to a foreign country, her passport was “confiscated”, says Michèle Halberstadt, the leader of ARP Selection. “Rasoulof is an artist. It is absurd to accuse him of wearing ‘security breach’ of a State with just using a palette of shadows and lights,” said she again. The ARP has launched a petition asking for his release “without delay, so that it can continue to create.”

The Festival de Cannes has cracked this Thursday a communiqué expressing its “dismay” to the verdict and calling for the release “immediate and unconditional” of the filmmaker. “The Cannes Festival has always worked in favour of the independence of artists and the creation of films that give to see the world as it is beyond the borders. Today, he wants to reiterate his deep commitment to freedom of expression, as well as his immense respect for Mohammad Rasoulof which he wants to bring all its support.”

“In the viewfinder of a sniper”

This is not the first time that Rasoulof, director-engaged, finds himself in the crosshairs of the iranian regime. A man of integrity, winner of the prix un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2017, he had already earned the wrath of his country. The paint Iran perverted, the feature-length film tells the story of Reza, a breeder of fish caught by the corruption of a society as a whole. If he had been able to make the move on the Croisette to present his film, Rasoulof had confiscated his passport in September of the same year.

a Few months later, he confided in Figaro that his situation in Iran was “quite hazy”. “I risk a sentence of six years imprisonment for the two charges against me: against national security and propaganda against the regime,” he explained, judging that his circumstances in his country was to be “in the viewfinder of a sniper”. “I don’t know what it’s going to happen to me in five meters or in five minutes.”

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Awarded with the prix de la mise en scene, un Certain Regard in 2011 for Goodbye, he hadn’t been able to make the trip to Cannes, under a previous ban on leaving the country. In the wake of this, in October 2011, the director had been sentenced to a year in prison for “activities against national security and propaganda”, while the filmmaker Jafar Panahi received a sentence of six years imprisonment for the same reason. The conviction of the two men had caused a wave of disapproval in the West.