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Director Saeed Roustayi Sentenced to Prison for Screening at Cannes

Date: 2023-08-22

Director Saeed Roustayi Sentenced to Prison for Screening at Cannes

Prominent Iranian director has been sentenced to six months in prison for showing his latest film Leila’s Brothers at the prior year’s Cannes Film Festival, sending shockwaves throughout the film industry. By: Theng Min Yee

Following Saeed Roustayi’s screening of his latest film at Cannes, the Islamic Revolutionary Court has convicted both Roustaee and film producer Javad Noruzbegi for, “Contributing to the propaganda of the opposition against the Islamic system,” according to the Iranian daily Etemad.

Having a run-time of nearly three hours, Leila’s Brothers stars The Salesman actor Taraneh Alidoosti as one of five siblings fighting to find a way out of poverty in Tehran. The movie, which functions like a social critique, was banned in Iran last year for, “Breaking the rules by being entered at international film festivals without authorisation,” according to Iranian authorities.

Roustaee and Noruzbegi’s conviction would see them serving about nine days in prison, while the remainder of their sentence will be suspended over five years, during which they will be prohibited from making films. The sentence also consists of Roustaee and Noruzbegi taking a mandatory filmmaking course while, “Preserving national and ethical interests,” as stated by authorities.

“We, at Nouvelles Vagues, the Biarritz International Film Festival, have been in shock as we found out about director Saeed Roustayi being sentenced to six months in prison – and forbidden to make another film for five years – for spreading anti-regime propaganda. His only crime is being a free-spirited filmmaker,” said the festival in a statement.

Renowned director Martin Scorsese has also backed a petition against the jailing of the Iranian director. “Their voices need to be heard,” Scorsese wrote.

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