Famous Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, whose latest film will be shown at the Cannes Film Festival, was sentenced to five years in prison by an Iranian court, his lawyer announced Wednesday, May 8.

The director, awarded several times at international festivals, was also sentenced to flogging, a fine and the confiscation of his property, said Mr Babak Paknia in messages posted on X. This judgment was not announced by official Iranian media.

His lawyer claimed that the court handed down a prison sentence of eight years, including five years applicable, and that this judgment was upheld on appeal on an unspecified date.

Mohammad Rasoulof, 52, was arrested in July 2022 for encouraging protests sparked after the collapse of a building that killed more than 40 people in May in southwest Iran.

After this tragedy, a group of Iranian filmmakers led by Mohammad Rasoulof published an open letter calling on security forces “to lay down their arms” in the face of national indignation against “corruption” and “incompetence” of those responsible.

The 77th Cannes Film Festival, which begins May 14, has added Mohammad Rasoulof’s new film The Seed of the Sacred Fig to the official selection. This filmmaker won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes in 2017 (A Man of Integrity), then the Golden Bear at Berlin in 2020 (The Devil Does Not Exist).