Rebellious Iranian filmmaker wins major prize at Cannes

The winner of the festival's Un Certain Regard competition has gone to Mohammad Rasoulof's "A Man of Integrity." Rasoulof was once sentenced to six years in prison over his dissident portrayals of Iranian life.

Iranian auteur Mohammad Rasoulof's bleak drama "A Man of Integrity" won the Un Certain Regard competition at the Cannes film festival on Saturday. Running parallel to the main competition for the coveted Palme d'Or, the secondary selection honors films that employ nontraditional and experimental forms of style and storytelling.

"A Man of Integrity," tells the story of Reza, who moves his family from Tehran to a small village to run a farm in northern Iran. Once there, they come into conflict with the mysterious "Company" that seems to control all aspects of local life.

The director was arrested in 2010 along with another acclaimed Persian filmmaker, Jafar Panahi, whose Tehran docudrama "Taxi" won the Golden Bear at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival.

Iranischer Regisseur Mohammad Rasoulof

Rasoulof's six-year sentence was later reduced to one year. None of his recent films have been shown in Iran

Rasoulof was detained ostensibly on filming without a permit, and sentenced to six years in prison. Ironically, this occurred while working on the film "Goodbye," which is about the pressure felt by an ordinary Iranian woman whose life cracks under the pressure of the restricted personal freedoms in her country. Rasoulof was handed 2011's Un Certain Regard best directing prize for the effort.

This year's jury was headed by actress Uma Thurman, and included 17 entries from around the world, including Taylor Sheridan's thriller Wind River. The film, which won Best Director on Saturday night, stars Elizabeth Olson and Jeremy Renner as an FBI agent and game tracker hunting the murder of a Native American girl on an isolated Indian reservation in Wyoming.

Stiff competition for the Palme d'Or

The festival closes on Sunday with the awarding of the prestigious Palme d'Or. While there was no clear favorite ahead of the ceremony, there has been a lot of international buzz around Sofia Coppola's "The Beguiled," - a thriller set during the American Civil War starring Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell.

German filmmaker Fatih Akin has also garnered praise for his "In the Fade," which starts Diane Kruger in her first role done completely in her native German. The drama was partially inspired by the National Socialist Underground (NSU) serial murders in early 2000s Germany, a series of neo-Nazi inspired crimes against immigrants that was originally blamed on the Turkish mafia.

Also competing for the Palme d'Or is the latest work by Austrian director Michael Haneke, one of very few filmmakers to win the prize twice. His latest "Happy End" features Isabelle Huppert as part of a stark look at the troubles of a normal bourgeoisie family in Calais, France, as the recent refugee crisis looms in the background.


Paris, Texas (1984)

Volker Schlöndorff garnered Germany's first Palme d'Or with the film version of the book "The Tin Drum" in 1979. Wim Wenders followed up in 1984 with "Paris, Texas," taking the audience and jury by storm. It also brought global recognition to the "New German Film" genre. Nastassja Kinski (shown here) played, alongside Harry Dean Stanton, the role of her career.


Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)

Festival audiences loved the film "Blue is the Warmest Color" four years ago. French director Abdellatif Kechiche told the love story between two young women in such an intense and expressive way that the jury awarded the Palme d'Or not only to the director, but also to the two fantastic actresses, Léa Seydoux und Adèle Exarchopoulos.


The White Ribbon (2009)

The 2009 Cannes jury quickly agreed that "The White Ribbon" was the most deserving film that year. Munich-born Austrian director Michael Haneke received the Palme d'Or for a film that managed to portray the stifling atmosphere of a small northern German town just before the outbreak of World War I. In 2012, Haneke received his second Golden Palm for his drama "Amour."


Pulp Fiction (1994)

Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" from 1994 became a cult classic. The complex story, told playfully and ironically, took American cinema to a whole new level. The film would go on to have a significant influence on directors and screenplay writers.


The Piano (1993)

Just a year earlier, the Golden Palm winner had also caused a sensation – but the kind that was long overdue. Director Jane Campion of New Zealand received the top accolade for her melancholy emigration drama about a pianist who couldn't speak. Campion became the first woman to claim the prestigious award.


Wild at Heart (1990)

In 1990, the Palme d'Or winner stirred up controversy. David Lynch's wild and somewhat violent road movie divided the jury – until jury president Bernardo Bertolucci of Italy got his way. The genre-bending "Wild at Heart" prepared audiences for films from the likes of Quentin Tarantino.


Yol (1982)

Cannes doesn't only present American and Western European films. In 1982, "Yol" became the first Turkish movie to win the Palm d'Or. Filmmaker Şerif Gören had to fill in on the project for director and screenplay writer Yılmaz Güney, who had to flee Turkey in 1981 for political reasons. Güney died of stomach cancer in 1984.


Apocalypse Now (1979)

The 1979 competition proved memorable because the jury, presided over by French writer Françoise Sagan, couldn't agree on a winner – so they chose two. Along with Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam War film "Apocalypse Now," Volker Schlöndorff also took home a trophy for "The Tin Drum," based on the book by Günter Grass.


Taxi Driver (1976)

Golden Palm winners often reflect the aesthetic developments in the world of cinema. In 1970, the jury demonstrated intuition by selecting the anti-war black comedy "MASH." Six years later, Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver," starring Jodie Foster and Robert De Niro, won the Palme d'Or. Both represented New Hollywood, which saw directors take more control over movie-making than production studios.


Viridiana (1961)

Spanish-Mexico director Luis Buñuel received the Palme d'Or in 1961 for "Viridiana." Just three days after he accepted the award in Cannes, the film was banned in Spain because the Franco regime wasn't pleased with the director's anticlerical, anti-capitalistic approach. Today, "Viridiana" is considered a masterpiece of surrealist cinema.