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Noticed at the Cannes Film Festival, the film “Leila and her brothers” by the director of “The law of Tehran”, banned in Iran

On Wednesday June 22, Tehran announced that the screening of the film Leila and her brothers of the young prodigy Saeed Roustaee (author of Tehran law)shown in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in May, was banned.

The feature film “has been banned by the National Film Organization according to law”, said the Iranian Minister of Culture, Mohammad Mehdi Esmaïli, quoted by the official agency Irna. Directed by Saeed Roustaee, Leila and her brothers recently participated in the Cannes Film Festival, where he received the FIPRESCI prize (jury of the International Federation of Cinematographic Press).

This nearly three-hour feature film paints the portrait of a poor family on the verge of implosion, in an Iran plunged into a deep economic crisis.mic. Iranian film authorities say they have banned the film ‘until further notice’ to get “breaks the rules by participating without permission at foreign festivals (…) in Cannes and then in Munich”.

According to the Organization, the film cannot obtain a broadcast license, given the director’s “refusal” to “correct” his work, as the ministry had asked him to do. During an interview with AFP during the festival at the end of May, Saeed Roustaee hinted that the film’s release in Iran was not yet authorized.

Saeed Roustaee, 32, the embodiment of the new guard of Iranian cinema, told during the Cannes Film Festival the difficulty of making films in his country, where censorship is the rule. Censorship that directors must learn to deal with if they want to continue working. “In Iran, there are red lines and there are many of them,” he said.

“To be able to film in Iran, you first need a permit. Getting this permit is a process. When you finally get it you can start shooting. But you will have to apply for another permit to distribute it in cinemas”, he explained. A censorship which is therefore exercised at two levels: the first allows the government to “validate” the scenario and the second to “verify” that the content of the film complies with its requirements. If this is not the case, the government will ask for “changes”. If the director refuses, the film will not be shown in the country.

“For my previous film, it took me nearly a year to get the first permit,” he said. Under these conditions, has he ever thought of leaving his country? “No, he retorted without flinching. This is where we have our roots. This is our country, this is our home”.

Saeed Roustaee was rrevealed by his second film “La loi de Tehran” – the first was never released in France – which was a public and critical success. “For me, the most important thing is to tell a story (…) then and only then comes the content. If it can be humanist and pay homage to the social class (popular, editor’s note) where I come from, better,” he said.

At the beginning of June, Iran announced that it had protested to France against the selection by the Cannes Film Festival of the film Mashhad Nights by Ali Abbasi which tells the story of a serial killer of prostitutes in the main holy city of the country.

Iranian actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi won the Best Actress award at Cannes in 2022 for her role as a pugnacious journalist in this thriller. Great Iranian directors have been awarded at Cannes such as Abbas Kiarostami (who won the Palme in 1997) and Asghar Farhadi, who twice won the Oscar for best foreign language film and was part of the jury this year.

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