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Banned Iranian Director Wins Top Prize At Berlin Film Festival

A scene from film There Is No Evil, by Mohammad Rasoulof, 2020
A scene from film There Is No Evil, by Mohammad Rasoulof, 2020

Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival for his film titled There Is No Evil, which he made despite being forbidden to do so by the government in Tehran.

Rasoulof was not present at the February 29 ceremony to receive the Golden Bear award for the film, which tells four stories loosely connected to the use of the death penalty in Iran and dealing with personal freedom under tyranny.

Rasoulof, who was sentenced to a year in prison in 2017 and is barred from leaving Iran, is a prominent critic of the Iranian government and has been banned by the authorities from making films for life.

Event organizers left an empty chair and name sign for the 48-year-old Rasoulof at the news conference for his film entry.

Germany's dpa news agency reported that Rasoulof's daughter, Baran, accepted the Golden Bear on his behalf.

The Berlin festival jury chose There Is No Evil over 17 other films competing for the prize, including Sally Potter's The Road Not Taken -- a remake of the classicv Berlin Alexanderplatz -- and Siberia.

Based on reporting by dpa, Reuters, AFP, and AP