Also a winner at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival, the anthology film explores capital punishment and its impacts in Iran.
Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof’s There Is No Evil, co-produced by Kaveh Farnam, CEO of Dubai-based distributor Advanced Media, won the Sydney Film Prize worth A$60,000 ($44,000).
The Sydney Film Prize is awarded to the most “audacious, cutting-edge and courageous” feature in Sydney Film Festival’s official competition line-up. Other films vying for the prize at this year’s festival included The Hand Of God, Flee and Drive My Car.
There Is No Evil tells four loosely related individual stories about the death penalty in Iran, from the executioner to the families of the victims. The film was shot in secret by the director in his native Iran.
The anthology film explores capital punishment and its impacts, with writer/director Mohammad Rasoulof examining the ripples that state-sanctioned killing has upon Iranian society. Pondering the threats and freedoms of life under an oppressive regime, it steps through the stories of a stressed husband and father (Ehsan Mirhosseini), a conscript (Kaveh Ahangar) who can’t fathom ending someone’s life, a soldier (Mohammad Valizadegan) whose compliance causes personal issues and a physician (Mohammad Seddighimehr) unable to practise his trade.
Rasoulof said in a pre-recorded message: “I am really happy there is something more than a simple appreciation in this prize. Being heard and understood is what keeps hope alive.”
Rasoulof has actually been banned from filmmaking in Iran, all for examining the reality of his homeland — and, after 2013’s Manuscripts Don’t Burn and 2017’s A Man of Integrity, There Is No Evil continues the trend.