The Seed of the Sacred Fig: the tense return of Mohammad Rasoulof


A victim of Iran’s cultural repression, Mohammad Rasoulof was unable to accept his invitation from the Festival to attend Cannes and join the Jury for Feature Films in 2023. In previous years, copies of Lerd (A Man of Integrity) (2017), Dast-neveshtehaa nemisoozand (Manuscripts Don’t Burn) (2013) and Bé omid é didar (Goodbye) (2011) were secretly sent to be screened for the Official Selection. Now facing a prison sentence in Iran, the director unveils The Seed of the Sacred Fig at the Competition. He will attend the screening of his film.

Welcoming Mohammad Rasoulof, the Festival seeks to express its support “for all artists around the world who suffer violence and persecution in their artistic expression,” said Thierry Frémaux, director of the Cannes Film Festival. “We are especially touched to have the director here with his film. We share this joy with all freedom-loving Iranians.”

A reflection of his country’s political landscape, Mohammad Rasoulof creates a climate of paranoia in The Seed of the Sacred Fig, a film about an examining magistrate whose gun disappears unexpectedly just as huge demonstrations erupt in Tehran. Within his previously close-knit family, a poisonous atmosphere sets in…

The director couldn’t return to Cannes for Lerd (A Man of Integrity), the 2017 Un Certain Regard Winner. In 2020, he won the Berlin Golden Bear for Sheytan Vojood Nadarad (There Is No Evil), a film that weaves together the destinies of four characters struggling to assert their freedom under a despotic regime where the death penalty still exists.

Despite constant repression, which has already led to him being imprisoned twice, Mohammad Rasoulof continues to successfully build an important and award-winning filmography. His criticism of the mullahs’ dictatorship recently earned him another prison sentence on appeal of eight years, with a minimum of five. The director secretly left his country after a gruelling journey but remains concerned for the safety of his teams in Iran.