Tribeca Festival Co-Founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal Condemn Sentencing Of Iranian Filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof

On the eve of the start of the Cannes Film Festival, embattled Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof is gaining support from others in the film industry.

Tribeca Festival co-founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal have issued a statement on the sentencing of Rasoulof.

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Earlier this week, it was revealed that the dissident Iranian filmmaker has been sentenced by Iran authorities to eight years in prison as well as a flogging, a fine, and confiscation of his property.

His lawyer, Babak Paknia, announced the news in a post on X on Wednesday.

“The main reason for issuing this sentence is for signing statements and making films and documentaries. In the court’s opinion, these actions were examples of collusion with the intention of committing a crime against the country’s security,” wrote Paknia.

Rasoulof’s film, The Seed of the Sacred Fig Tree, is set to have its world premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, which starts Tuesday. He reportedly has been pressured to withdraw it.

The statement from De Niro and Rosenthal:

“We express our profound condemnation and deepest concern over the sentencing of the acclaimed Iranian filmmaker, Mohammad Rasoulof.

“The imposition of an eight-year prison sentence, coupled with punitive measures including flogging, fines, and confiscation of property, represents a grievous violation of human rights and artistic freedom.

“Mohammad Rasoulof’s courageous works have consistently sought to shine a light on societal issues, offering invaluable insights through a cinematic lens and underscores his unwavering commitment to the pursuit of truth and the promotion of human rights through artistic expression.

“We want to add our voices demanding the immediate release of Mohammad Rasoulof and urge the Iranian authorities to respect the rights to free expression and to end the criminalization of art and thought.

“Art is not a crime; it’s dialogue with humanity. Today, we stand in solidarity with Mohammad Rasoulof, echoing his courage and commitment to these truths.”

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