‘The Seed of the Sacred Fig’ Wins Fipresci Award at Cannes



Mohammad Rasoulof’s “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” won the Fipresci award at Cannes. 

The jury of the International Federation of Film Critics called it “a courageous story set in modern-day Iran that deals with the conflict between tradition and progress, depicted in a very powerful and imaginative way.” 

Following a rapturous screening and 2024 record 12-minute standing ovation, the film became a Palme d’Or frontrunner, reported Variety.

“The only reason I left Iran – and that was what made me take that decision – was to go on telling the stories of my land. That was really my only motivation.” 

“I need to go on telling stories, creating stories. However, this does not mean that I have left the narratives of Iran. Iran is still inside me, and I still can go on telling Iranian stories and conveying them to the rest of the world,” Rasoulof told Variety’s Nick Vivarelli two days ago. 

Currently at Cannes, he fled Iran after being sentenced to eight years in jail for making a film that criticizes the regime. 

The Story of Souleymane
Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

On Tuesday, filmmakers such as Sandra Hüller, “Holy Spider” star Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Andrew Haigh, Agnieszka Holland, Laura Poitras and Sean Baker released a signed open letter condemning “the inhumane treatment of Rasoulof and numerous other independent artists in Iran, who are being severely punished, criminalized and silenced for exercising their artistic freedom.” 

“The Story of Souleymane” – which in the meantime also scored Un Certain Regard’s Jury Prize – received recognition as well.

“A tight piece of fiction with a documentary feel, a race against the clock that reveals the extreme density of a day in the French capital for migrants,” the jurors said about Boris Lojkine’s film. 

The Fipresci Award for a first or second feature in parallel sections Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week went to “Desert of Namibia” by Yôko Yamanaka. 

The Fipresci jury noted its “intrepid exploration of contemporary shades of neurodivergence, captured through images that ceaselessly probe the distance between its central characters as they navigate the spaces of 21st century Japan.”

Desert of Namibia
Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

“It was necessary to wait until the last day for a film in competition to literally shake Cannes, and I’m not referring to the nonsense of counting the minutes of applause after the screening, as if that were a measure of quality in sessions with the filmmakers present,” jury president Marcelo Janot said about Rasoulof’s win.

“We can list numerous reasons why the mere presence of the film in the competition is historic in itself. Rasoulof managed to flee the country last month in an epic manner, crossing the mountainous border on foot and seeking exile in Germany. And here we have again an element that contemporary Iranian cinema handles so well: an episode involving a mystery triggers a series of conflicts that will reveal a web of lies, paranoia, hypocrisy, prejudice and everything else that fits to describe the psychological effect of living in such a society. This is depicted in a very powerful and imaginative way.”


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