Iranian director’s escape stokes drama as Cannes gears up for explosive film fest

News of director Mohammad Rasoulof’s escape from Iran adds a dramatic twist to the 77th Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off on Tuesday against an already volatile backdrop of wars raging on Europe’s doorstep, potential worker strikes, and rumours sex abusers may be outed even as they hit the red carpet.

Scandal and controversy are integral to the Cannes Film Festival, but this year’s gathering looks set to be the most turbulent in years – and not only because of the showers and thunderstorms forecast to lash the Côte d’Azur.

Once the famous red carpet is rolled out from the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, the world’s premier film shindig will dish out its customary 10-day movie extravaganza – with a line-up some critics have billed as the most mouthwatering in years.

But darker plotlines abound, reflecting a backdrop of turmoil both in France and abroad.

In a last-minute twist on the eve of the festival, Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof – who is competing for the Palme d’Or – announced he had fled his home country just days after being sentenced to eight years in prison on security offences.

“I am grateful to my friends, acquaintances, and people who kindly, selflessly, and sometimes by risking their lives, helped me get out of the border and reach a safe place on the difficult and long path of this journey,” Rasoulof, whose whereabouts are unknown, wrote on Instagram.

(With AP, AFP)

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