Manuscripts Don’t Burn
This brave, angry film about the attempt by the Iranian authorities to cover-up a past state crime grips with fierce urgency.
Subject of a ban on filmmaking imposed on him, along with Jafar Panahi, by the Iranian authorities, Mohammad Rasoulof has responded to this attempt to silence him with a defiant, directly political film. Taking place during a single day in and around a wintry Tehran, Manuscripts Don’t Burn revolves around the attempts by two low-level state officials to cover up a state-sponsored atrocity involving a number of dissident intellectuals from a number of years back. Gripping with quiet, thriller-like assurance, the movie probes the reasons and continued legacy of this bloody event and provides a sombre snapshot of a wider culture of corruption and repression. The style is low key and unadorned, but the atmosphere is charged with a raw, electrifying anger. With much of the film clandestinely shot in Iran, the bulk of the cast and crew remain anonymous to protect them from the attention of the Iranian authorities.
Mohammad Rasoulof was born in Shiraz, Iran in 1972 and is an independent filmmaker. After studying sociology, he started his professional career as a filmmaker with independent documentary films. The docudrama The Twilight (Gagooman), produced in 2000 and released in 2002, was his first full-length feature film and was related to real events and persons. So far, Mohammad Rasoulof has made two documentary and four feature films. In 2010, he was arrested on set and accused of filming without a permit. He was sentenced to six years in prison, later reduced to one year. He is currently out on bail, waiting for the sentence to begin. His last film, Goodbye (Be omid é didar), was released at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival in the category Un Certain Regard and won the prize for directing. His recent film Manuscripts Don’t Burn was also screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival where it won the FIPRESCI Prize.
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