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Cannes Festival denounces Iran director’s jailing: ‘a serious violation of free speech’

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Iranian director Saeed Roustaee attends a photo call for the film ‘Leila’s Brothers’ during the 75th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, May 26, 2022. Cannes Film Festival organizers le Wednesday August 16, 2023, denounced “a serious attack on freedom of expression” after Roustaee was sentenced to prison for having screened a film in competition. VALERY HACHE / AFP

PARIS — The organizers of the Cannes Film Festival denounced Wednesday August 16 “a serious violation of freedom of expression” after the Iranian director Saeed Roustaee was sentenced to prison for having screened a film in competition.

An Iranian court sentenced Roustaee, 34, to six months in prison for screening his film “Leila’s Brothers” at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, local media reported on Tuesday.

The film, which chronicles the economic struggles of a family in Tehran, has been banned in Iran since its release last year.

Roustaee’s sentencing, which includes a five-year work ban. “Once again constitutes a serious violation of the freedom of expression of Iranian artists, filmmakers, producers and technicians,” Cannes organizers said in a statement to AFP.

“The Cannes Film Festival expresses its support for all those who suffer violence and reprisals for having created and distributed their works. The Festival is their home,” he said.

“Leila’s Brothers” was in competition for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival last year. It missed out on first prize, but won the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) award.

It was banned after ‘breaking the rules by being entered into international film festivals without permission’, and the director refused to ‘correct’ it as requested by the Culture Ministry, according to state media. ‘era.

On Tuesday, the reformist daily Etemad reported that Roustaee and the film’s producer, Javad Noruzbegi, “were sentenced to six months in prison for showing the film at the Cannes Film Festival”.

Roustaee and Noruzbegi were found guilty of “contributing to opposition propaganda against the Islamic system”.

The filmmakers will only serve one-twentieth of their sentence, around nine days, while the rest “will be suspended for five years”, according to Etemad, who added that the verdict could be appealed.

During the suspension period, the defendants will be required to complete a filmmaking course while “safeguarding national and ethical interests” and refrain from associating with other film professionals, the newspaper said. /ra

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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