Cannes 2024: Iranian Director Escapes Prison to Receive Standing Ovation in Cannes for The Seed of the Sacred Fig

Cannes, France – Exiled Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof made a dramatic appearance at the Cannes festival with his latest film “The Seed of the Sacred Fig.” Fleeing Iran to escape an eight-year prison sentence, Rasoulof drew from his real-life experiences with the repressive Iranian regime to create a powerful piece of cinema.

In a powerful call for resistance, Rasoulof urged Iranian filmmakers and artists not to be afraid of challenging the oppressive leadership in their country. Despite the risks associated with his work, he emphasized the importance of fighting for a dignified life in Iran.

After the premiere of “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” at the 77th annual Cannes film festival, Rasoulof shared the harrowing story of his decision to flee his homeland. Facing the looming threat of arrest due to the film’s content, he made the difficult choice to leave Iran and seek refuge in a more supportive cultural environment outside the country.

Joined by his actors Setareh Maleki and Mahsa Rostami at a press conference, Rasoulof expressed gratitude for the cast and crew who worked on the film despite facing state recriminations in Iran. His heart remained with those who were unable to join him at Cannes, hoping for an end to the restrictions they faced.

“The Seed of the Sacred Fig” delves into the 2022 protests in Iran, showcasing real demonstration footage and following a family grappling with the country’s justice system. The film, shot clandestinely to avoid censorship, received a tremendous response from the Cannes audience, with Rasoulof highlighting the absence of some actors who were unable to attend.

Through his portrayal of characters inspired by Iranian prison officials, Rasoulof sought to understand the motivations behind their actions. As he continues to push boundaries and challenge the status quo through his art, the director remains committed to shedding light on the complexities of Iranian society.

Rasoulof’s courage in creating provocative and socially relevant films like “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” serves as a beacon of hope for filmmakers and artists in Iran and around the world. In the face of adversity, he stands as a symbol of resilience and determination in the pursuit of creative expression and social change.