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A Man of Integrity


Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof’s first film since 2013’s Manuscripts Don’t Burn finally gets released on German screens. It’s a slow-burn fable that follows Reza (Reza Akhlaghirad) and his wife Hadis (Soudabeh Beizaee), who leave Tehran with their son to move to the countryside. Soon, Reza’s goldfish farm is poisoned and he faces intimidating tactics from his land-hungry neighbour Abbas (Misagh Zare Zeinab). Part character study, part morality tale, A Man of Integrity pits a man’s principles against a culture of backhanded deals and shady payoffs, exposing not only how the best of moral principles are put at risk by systemic corruption within a broken system but also by unwavering pride. As Reza’s wife tells one of her friends: “Men’s pride can lead to problems that can only be solved by women’s intelligence.”

Beyond the incredible story that the film was clandestinely shot while Rasoulof was waiting for his prison sentence to be carried out – he was sentenced by the government of Iran to six years in prison for filming without a permit and still lives under a suspended sentence for alleged collusion against the regime – and secretly delivered to Cannes on a USB stick in 2017, it’s vital that films like this manage to pierce through the festival circuit bubble. Rasoulof’s films have never screened in his native Iran, and his top award win in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes two years ago hasn’t ensured widespread theatrical releases. It’s therefore well worth heading to your nearest arthouse kino both to seek out an act of rebellion from a censored filmmaker and to celebrate art that shouldn’t be shackled.

A Man of Integrity | Directed by Mohammad Rasoulof (Iran, 2017), with Reza Akhlaghirad, Soudabeh Beizaee, Misagh Zare Zeinab. Starts May 2.

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