Mohammad Rasoulof's latest film There Is No Evil, funded by Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, is in the competition of this year's Berlinale. Whether the Iranian director and Hamburg resident by choice will be present at the world premiere of his film is doubtful. The filmmaker, who was sentenced in his home country last year, is still not allowed to leave Iran. Since 2012 Mohammad Rasoulof has been living in Hamburg.
Dr. Carsten Brosda, Senator for Culture and Media: "Filmmakers around the world are increasingly being attacked for their work. This makes it all the more important to take a stand and vouch for their freedom, our values and the dignity of the individual. Despite the high personal risk involved, Mohammad Rasoulof repeatedly chooses to take a stand in his films. For this courage and his attitude he deserves my explicit respect. I sincerely hope that the travel ban will soon be lifted by the Iranian regime and that Mohammad Rasoulof will be able to celebrate the world premiere of his film in Berlin personally and that he can soon put down roots again in his adopted home of Hamburg".
Albert Wiederspiel, FILMFEST HAMBURG: "It is unbelievable that a director who holds humanitarian values higher than almost any other in today's cinema is condemned and prevented from leaving the country. Mohammad Rasoulof loves his country and his people - his films are declarations of love in the best tradition of Iranian cinema".
Helge Albers, Managing Director of Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein: "Artistic freedom is not a luxury. It should be a matter of course. We want Mohammad Rasoulof to be able to pursue his profession anywhere in the world without any danger to life and limb. The invitation to the Berlinale Competition is a great honour for him and underlines his status in the world of cinema. We call on the Iranian authorities to let Mohammad Rasoulof leave the country for the world premiere of his film and hope that he will be able to pursue his work without any restrictions in the future.
In There is No Evil, the director explores in four episodes the question of the extent to which people in an authoritarian regime are responsible for their own actions, no matter what they do to others. German Producer is the Hamburg based Cosmopol Film.
Already in September 2017, Iranian authorities had withheld Rasoulof's passport when he returned to Tehran from the Telluride Film Festival. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards accused him of "endangering national security" and "propaganda against the Islamic government". This propaganda accusation led to a conviction in mid-September 2019 by Department 26 of the Revolutionary Court. Mohammad Rasoulof was sentenced to one year in prison and a two-year travel ban. He was also banned from membership in political and social organizations.
In 2005 Mohammad Rasoulof was a guest at FILMFEST HAMBURG for the first time and has been a friend of the festival ever since. His film Iron Island received the Hamburg Film Critics' Award in 2005. Later, The White Meadows and Goodbye, the opening film 2011, which had to be smuggled out of Iran, were shown in Hamburg. After his passport was confiscated, Rasoulof was no longer able to attend the German premiere of his film A Man of Integrity at FILMFEST HAMBURG in 2017. The film had previously won the main prize of the section "Un Certain Regard" in Cannes. FILMFEST HAMBURG screened Ashkan Najafi's film The Red Coupé in 2019, the script was written by Mohammad Rasoulof, who also co-produced the film.