Expert on Iranian artists can comment on Cannes director drama

LAWRENCE — The surprise appearance today of the apparently exiled Iranian movie director Mohammad Rasoulof at the Cannes Film Festival shows “the ongoing pressure placed on artists who challenge the regime’s monopoly over the country’s sociopolitical and cultural discourse,” says the author of a recent book on the subject.

Rana Esfandiary
Rana Esfandiary

Rana Esfandiary, University of Kansas assistant professor of theatre & dance, grew up in Iran and is the author of “At the Threshold: Contemporary Theatre, Art and Music of Iran” (Routledge, 2023).

She is available to the media to comment on the situation that led to Rasoulof’s pending eight-year jail sentence and apparent exile. 

“I know Mohammad Rasoulof,” Esfandiary said. “However, I haven’t seen his latest movie. I know he was pressured to not enter it and then to withdraw its entry at Cannes, which he refused, and then he received such a lengthy prison sentence.

Mohammad Rasoulof is an Iranian independent filmmaker, shown Nov. 9, 2014. Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons.

“He is like Jafar Panahi, who is banned from working inside Iran and prohibited from leaving the country. Panahi smuggled his movie, ‘This is Not a Film,’ out of Iran on USB drive hidden inside a cake to enter it into Cannes years ago. Stuff like this happens to artists quite frequently.

“Theatre director Ali Akbar Alizad, about whom I wrote extensively, left Iran in August and now lives in Wales. So he is out, too, after he faced so much restriction regarding his theatre works and teaching practice in the light of the 2022 Woman, Life, Freedom uprising.”  

Media may quote from the interview above or arrange to speak with Esfandiary by contacting Rick Hellman, KU public affairs officer, at (913) 620-8786 or by email.

Thu, 05/23/2024


Rick Hellman

Media Contacts

Rick Hellman

KU News Service