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Society & Culture

Film 'Leila's Brothers' Banned in Iran

June 20, 2022
2 min read
Star Taraneh Alidoosti on the red carpet at Cannes
Star Taraneh Alidoosti on the red carpet at Cannes

The Cinema Organization of Iran has banned the 2022 film Leila's Brothers from cinemas and refused to issue a screening license, alleging its director failed to consult with the government on the content.

The two-hour, 45-minute drama by actor and director Saeed Roustayi, who won Best First Director at the regime's own 34th Fajr Film Festival, charts the lives of a family drowning in debt and struggling to make ends meet due to sanctions and economic crisis in Iran. It also takes aim at the patriarchal culture still embedded in many partts of society. It was nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival this year.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Cinema Organization's Directorate of Public Relations accused the filmmaker of "violations of the regulations". Roustayi, it claimed, had allowed the film to be screened at Cannes "without any co-operaton or corrections".

Due to what it described as "the ongoing nature of the violation" since Cannes and the film's participation at the Munich Film Festtival, the Organization said, it would be banned in Iran until further notice. 

Roustayi, 32, is understood to have already stated he will not change the film. In a post on Instagram on Monday he reported being ubjected to threats and intimidation as a result of the work. He has recently posted critically about food price hikes in Iran, writing last month: "We cook with wheat, not patience. End this chapter of cruelty to the people."

At Cannes, Roustayi had told a reporter with AFP: "In Iran, there are red lines - plenty of them. Getting a permit to shoot is a very extreme, tedious and long process. Then you need another permit to release the film theatrically and in this process, of course, there is censorship."

Peyman Maadi, one of the cast, had also discussed the cost of living crisis in Iran at Cannes: "Inflation and the impact of what is happening in Iran is worse than war. The prices in Iran sometimes increases three times a day. For some in Iran, if their refrigerator breaks, their social class changes."



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