A film on Iran celebrated by Cannes critics banned at home

Iranian authorities banned an Iranian film about a family’s struggles in the sanctions-hit country after it screened at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Director Saeed Roustaee’s “Leila’s Brothers” has been banned until further notice by Iran’s Cinema Organization, Culture Minister Mohammad-Mehdi Esmaili told the official IRNA news agency.

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The film “broke the rules by being entered into international film festivals without permission”, the COI said.

‘Leila’s Brothers’ missed out on the Cannes Film Festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or, last month, but won the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) award.

The film was denied a theatrical release in Iran due to its director’s refusal to “correct” it in the manner requested by the ministry, the IOC said.

Roustaee, 32, previously wowed critics overseas with his 2019 crime thriller ‘Just 6.5’.

From a working-class neighborhood in Tehran, he told the reformist newspaper Shargh: “I have a social commitment to the class in which I live… Nothing in my films is symbolic.”

Despite all the challenges imposed by the Iranian authorities, the country has long had a thriving film scene, with the likes of Jafar Panahi and Asghar Farhadi winning awards around the world.

Iranian Zar Amir Ebrahimi won best actress at Cannes this year for ‘Holy Spider,’ in which she plays a journalist trying to solve the serial murders of prostitutes in the Shiite shrine city of Mashhad.

Ebrahimi, 41, lives in exile following a smear campaign about his love life.

His award infuriated Iranian authorities who accused Cannes organizers of “committing a biased and political act by praising a false and disgusting film”.

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