Ever-evolving human rights violations in Iran against its filmmakers is often difficult to grasp. One moment, there appears to be liberalization and rejoicing; the next there are crackdowns and arrests. Is it clear to anyone what exactly Jafar Panahi's situation within Iran is at the moment, given that he has continued to make movies when he's been banned from doing so? His compatriot, Mohammad Rasoulof, who was arrested around the same time, has always appeared to be in a better position with the authorities, but recent news to the contrary suggests he is facing a pushback from the new Iranian regime.
Just a few days ago, the Hamburg Film Film festival announced that Rasoulof was free to attend the festival. The story was picked up by several outlets, including Vadim Rizov, who reported on the perennial "back-and-forth cycle about what’s permitted." Turns out, the Hamburg fest spoke too soon, and Rasoulof remains detained in Iran.
The Stockholm Film Festival, which is also slated to screen Rasoulof's new film "Manuscripts Don't Burn" issued an update this morning. "Mohammad Rasoulof has had his passport confiscated and he is now being prohibited from leaving Iran," the festival said. Screen Daily has a full accounting of the back-and-forth and misreporting. The Hamburg fest went on record denying their own report. “We don’t know where this story has come from,” said a spokeswoman for the festival.
As for Rasoulof's fate, no one seems to know that, either. “We have no clue as to whether he will be free to travel to these engagements,” the film's international sales rep Adeline Fontan Tessaur told Screen.
Perhaps there's one thing for sure: the Western media will continue to have a hard time getting at the truth.