Mohammad Rasoulof

Iran has lifted the travel ban that has kept filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof from visiting the Cannes Film Festival, where his “Be Omid-e Didar” (Goodbye) is being shown.

Rasoulof’s lawyer, Iman Mirzazadeh, said: “My client had acquired a licence to make a new film last year, and this is its international debut. Fortunately, the cultural and judiciary officials have decided to lift the existing travel ban on him and allow him to travel to participate in the Cannes festival.”

He added: “However, since his film has already been screened, we are not certain that he will indeed be at the Cannes festival.” Rasoulof’s film has already been shown in Cannes but it will be repeated at the end of the week.

“My client’s file is still open in the branch 54 appellate court in Tehran,” the lawyer added. “In view of a series of irregularities, there is hope that the judges and advisers may annul the previous verdict.”

Rasoulof was arrested in December of 2009 together with another prominent Iranian filmmaker, Jafar Panahi. State media reported that their arrest was connected with their intention to make an anti-regime film.

Rasoulof was later released on bail and sentenced to six years in prison for “assembly and collusion against national security and propaganda against the regime.”

Jafar Panahi was sentenced to 6 years in prison and a 20-year ban from filmmaking and travel abroad.

Following those verdicts, members of the Iranian film community wrote several letters to the head of the judiciary, urging him to review and annul the sentences against their colleagues. The international film community has also been very vocal in its support.

The Berlin Film Festival left an empty seat for Jafar Panahi, who had been selected as a festival jury member but was prevented from attending the festival by Iranian authorities. The Cannes festival has called the sentences “shameful, intolerable and unfitting for two filmmakers whose only ‘crime’ is to want to make films freely in their country.”