Some movies are important, simply for the mere fact that they can exist. Mohammad Rasoulof , a brave and talented Iranian filmmaker, was recently sentenced to one year in prison, two years of prohibition from any social or political activity and, of course, a total ban on filming, for being a dissident. Coincidence of fate, last March he received the order to go to prison to begin his sentence, almost at the same time as the Golden Bear at the Berlin festival for this monumental film.

Far from being intimidated, the filmmaker had conceived a complex operation to be able to film his latest and devastating creation. Four different scripts, sent to the authorities in charge of censorship, submitted by different filmmakers, and which were supposed to be four different medium-length films. Each one of the stories is spectacular (‘ Evil doesn’t exist, She told me: you can do it, The day of the anniversary and Kiss me ‘), but all four together are literally a bomb that explodes in the viewer’s brain.‘There is not evil’.

Seventh film by a flawless filmmaker, after the essentials ‘Goodbye’ or ‘A Man of Upright ‘, Mohammad Rasoulof displays his capacity for analysis, his infinite understanding of protagonists overwhelmed by extreme circumstances and a dizzying sense of narrative and visual rhythm.

How to overcome the state obligation to kill another human being? How to live in a country where at least 251 people will be executed in 2019 (some even minors, and only below the shameful Chinese world record of 657)? The filmmaker presents four situations, explaining how the system works and the implications it entails in society and among people, and leaves it to each viewer to answer these questions, from their own sensibility.“There is not evil’ movie.

Returning to the almost forgotten episodic film, perhaps partly out of necessity, Mohammad Rasoulof successfully ventures into genres that he had not yet tackled, such as the thriller, and combines it with his elaborate costumbrist and social dramas. We move from the center of the city, bubbly, dynamic and threatening, to the calm countryside, of political involvement, to the fulfillment of a job without question (in the line of reflection on the limits of due obedience), of the social hack that they represent 21 months of military service and the ‘tasks’ that come with it. An unforgettable fresco in which one of his phrases resounds, without a time limit: ‘your strength is saying no, but saying no means destroying your life’.

In this edition of the festival, Iranian cinema will shine again and it is almost impossible for it not to monopolize several of the awards from its Palmarés. The mixture of realism and poetic metaphors (such as those animals that appear in the films of the selection -and which we have already alluded to in another article in the coverage- as magical symbols, in this case the fox in the last story) works to the perfection .‘There is not evil’, movie scene.

There is not evil is the political film of the year. One of those rare cinematographic moments that make up an entire year, with its two and a half hours of footage that leave the impression of having seen a brief short film, and even more enthusiastic viewers, of a cinema with as much quality as this one.

Original title : Sheytan Vojud Nadarad (There Is No Evil). Direction and Screenplay : Mohammad Rasoulof. Photography : Many Many. Cast : Ehsan Mirhosseini, Shaghayegh Shourian, Kaveh Ahangar, Alireza Zareparast, Salar Khamseh, Darya Moghbeli. Duration : 150 min. Country : Iran (2020). Distributor : BTeam Pictures

Synopsis : Stories about moral fortitude and the death penalty that question the extent to which individual freedom can be expressed in a despotic regime.