A court in Iran has sentenced prominent movie director Saeed Roustaee to six months in prison for the screening of his film “Leila’s Brothers” at the Cannes Film Festival last year, local media reported Tuesday.
“Leila’s Brothers,” a rich and complex tale of a family struggling with economic hardship in Tehran, has been banned in Iran since its release last year.
The movie was in competition for the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes festival. It missed the top prize but won the International Federation of Film Critics award.
On Tuesday, the reformist daily Etemad said that Roustaee, along with the movie’s producer Javad Noruzbegi, “were sentenced to six months in prison for screening the movie at Cannes Film festival.”
Roustaee and Noruzbegi were found guilty of “contributing to propaganda of the opposition against the Islamic system.”
“Leila’s Brothers” was banned after it “broke the rules by being entered at international film festivals without authorization,” and the director refused to “correct” it as requested by the culture ministry, official media said at the time.
The filmmakers will only serve about nine days of their sentence, while the remainder “will be suspended over five years,” according to Etemad, which added the verdict can be appealed.
During the suspension period, the defendants will be required to take a filmmaking course while “preserving national and ethical interests” and refrain from associating with other cinema professionals, the newspaper said.
Roustaee, 34, has gained international renown since the 2019 release of his film “Just 6.5,” an uncompromising look at Iran’s drug problem and the brutal, and fruitless, police response.
Iran has long had a thriving cinema scene, with figures like Jafar Panahi and Asghar Farhadi winning awards around the world.