12-minute Cannes ovation for Iranian film that earned its maker 8-year jail term

25 May,2024 07:34 AM IST |  Cannes  |  IANS

Rasoulof risked his life by appearing at the film`s premiere as he fled Iran for Europe on May 13 to avoid going to prison.

Image for representational purposes only. Photo Courtesy: Cannes Film Festival

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'The Seed of the Sacred Fig', Iranian dissident director Mohammad Rasoulof's latest film, for which he received an eight-year prison sentence back home, got a rapturous 12-minute standing ovation at its Cannes Film Festival premiere on Friday, says 'Variety'. Rasoulof risked his life by appearing at the film's premiere as he fled Iran for Europe on May 13 to avoid going to prison.

The only prominent member of the film's star cast who was with Rasoulof on the red carpet was Golshifteh Farahani, who was seen with Irrfan Khan in the Swiss-French-Singaporean Rajasthani film, 'The Song of Scorpions', premiered at the Locarno Film Festival in 2017. There was undeniable applause as the credits of Rasoulof's film began to roll (it is 'Variety' policy, though, to begin timing standing ovations once the house lights come up). Rasoulof got teary and waved enthusiastically to the balcony.

Ali Abbasi, director of fellow competition title 'The Apprentice', stood next to Rasoulof and encouraged the crowd to keep clapping -- not that they needed it, as their cheers just got louder and louder. There was even a sign in the audience that read 'Femme! Vie! Liberté!' ('Woman! Life! Freedom!'), the slogan for solidarity with Iranian women who are demanding their fundamental rights.

The ecstatic response to and political weight of 'The Seed of the Sacred Fig' has cemented its status as a frontrunner for the festival's prestigious Palme d'Or, according to 'Variety'. On the red carpet, Rasoulof, who has previously served prison time in Iran, held up images of stars Soheila Golestani and Missagh Zareh, who were unable to leave Iran for the premiere.

In addition to his prison sentence, adds 'Variety', Iranian authorities had been pressuring him to pull 'The Seed of the Sacred Fig' from Cannes and harassing the film's producers and actors. In an interview with 'Variety' on Thursday, Rasoulof said that Golestani has been arrested by Iranian security services.

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