Writer-director Mohammad Rasoulof has rooted his remarkable career in an aesthetically wide-ranging critique of censorship and authoritarian rule in his native Iran, a project embracing everything from documentary (Head Wind, 2008) to surreal allegory (The White Meadows, SFIFF 2010) to hard-edged realism (Goodbye, SFIFF 2012). That unflinching effort has earned him extensive censorship himself-none of his films can officially screen in Iran-as well as a much publicized arrest and prison sentence in 2010, simultaneous with that of fellow filmmaker Jafar Panahi. Rasoulof here extends his uncompromising body of work with a taut, finely woven drama based on real-life events. Shot covertly in Iran, the story revolves around two overlapping centers: a desperate father who seeks money for his ailing child through work as a contract killer; and a small circle of aging writers menaced by the secret service, in the person of a powerful agent with much to lose by the threatened publication of certain manuscripts. A cat-and-mouse game ensues against a backdrop of generational amnesia and popular indifference, as brutality overwhelms conscience and despotism haunts the oblivious streets. -Robert Avila
Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof (b. 1972) studied sociology at Shiraz University before turning to cinema. His first feature,The Twilight (2002), relates a true story of prison life in Iran. His documentary Head Wind (2008) deals with state control of information in Iran. An outspoken opponent of authoritarian government, his other films include Goodbye (SFIFF 2012), The White Meadows (SFIFF 2010) and Iron Island (SFIFF 2006).Manuscripts Don't Burn screened at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where it received the FIPRESCI Prize. In 2010, Iranian authorities arrested Rasoulof and sentenced him to prison for filming without a permit in an internationally condemned act of state censorship.
April 25, 20148:40 p.m.
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