Iran movie feted by Cannes critics banned at home

Leila's Brothers, by director Saeed Roustaee, has been banned in Iran until further notice. PHOTO: AFP

TEHERAN (AFP) - Authorities in Iran have banned an Iranian movie about the struggles of a family in the sanctions-hit country after it was feted at this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Leila's Brothers, by director Saeed Roustaee, has been banned until further notice by the Cinema Organisation of Iran (COI), Culture Minister Mohammad-Mehdi Esmaili told state news agency IRNA.

The movie "broke the rules by being entered at international film festivals without authorisation", the COI said.

Leila's Brothers missed out on the Cannes festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or, last month but won the award of the International Federation of Film Critics (Fipresci).

The film has been denied a cinema release in Iran because of its director's refusal to "correct" it in the manner requested by the ministry, the COI said.

Roustaee, 32, had already wowed critics abroad with his 2019 police thriller, Just 6.5.

From a working class district of Teheran, he told reformist newspaper Shargh: "I have a social commitment to the class in which I live... Nothing in my films is symbolic."

For all the challenges imposed by Iranian authorities, the country has long had a thriving cinema scene, with film-makers like Jafar Panahi and Asghar Farhadi scooping awards around the world.

Iran's Zar Amir Ebrahimi won this year's Cannes award for best actress for Holy Spider (2022), in which she plays a journalist trying to solve the serial murders of prostitutes in the Shiite shrine city of Mashhad.

Ebrahimi, 41, lives in exile following a smear campaign about her love life.

Her award infuriated Iranian authorities who accused Cannes organisers of "committing a biased and political act by praising a false and disgusting film".

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