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Famed Iranian Director and Actress Debut Cannes Film Post-Iran Escape

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After fleeing their native country, prominent Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof and dissident actress Setareh Maleki attended the Cannes Film Festival for the premiere of their movie.

Rasoulof was greeted with a long-standing ovation on Friday as he displayed photos of the cast at the premiere of his latest film, “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” which is competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or award at the festival.

The dissident filmmaker fled Iran by foot through rugged mountainous terrain after receiving an eight-year prison sentence, a flogging, a fine, and property confiscation for “the signing of statements and the making of films and documentaries,” which the regime claimed are “collusion to commit a crime against the country’s security.”

On the red carpet, Rasulof and actress Golshifteh Farahani showcased images of the film’s actresses, Soheila Golestani and Misagh Zareh, who could not attend the event.

Maleki was forced to flee Iran following her appearance without the mandated hijab in an underground film, examining Iran’s nationwide protest movement in 2022 following the death of Mahsa Jina Amini.

According to the UN, the Iranian regime is responsible for the violence that led to Amini’s death – after she was reportedly detained and beaten by “morality police” for wearing her hijab improperly. The months-long protests, often dubbed the “Women Life Freedom” protests, saw security forces kill at least 550 and detain tens of thousands.

Iran’s Culture Minister Mohammad Mehdi Esmaeili condemned the production and distribution of his film, calling it “illegal.”

Maleki gained prominence before appearing in Rasoulof’s film when she posted a video on Instagram in which she visited the grave of her father, who died of COVID-19, and vehemently criticized Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for leading the “biggest dictatorship in history” as a “ruthless murderer.”

A team of medical experts revealed in a report last year that over 75,000 Covid deaths could have been prevented in Iran if the Supreme Leader had not banned vaccines produced by American and British companies.