Cinema: Iranian film "Mantagheye bohrani" receives the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival

The 76th edition of the Locarno Film Festival awarded its highest distinction to the film by Iranian director Ali Ahmadzadeh, shot clandestinely in the streets of Tehran.

Sina Ataeian Dena with the Golden Leopard on Saturday 12 August in Locarno. AP - Jean-Christophe Bott

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The German-Iranian film Mantagheye bohrani (Critical Zone) by Ali Ahmadzadeh won the supreme award of this international film festival. Unveiled in world premiere on August 10, this anticipation film tells the story of Amir, a lonely man who crosses the underbelly of Tehran with his dog, selling drugs and healing souls in pain (similar to zombies, editor's note) like a modern prophet.

The making of this feature film was a real challenge, since the shooting took place clandestinely, at night, in the Iranian capital to escape the authorities. The actors are amateurs and some scenes were filmed with a hidden camera.

A director forced to stay in Iran

Even before the film festival began, the regime in Tehran tried to pressure Ali Ahmadzadeh to withdraw his film. Moreover, the 37-year-old director was not present in Locarno because of a ban on leaving the country. He was represented by Saturday night by his producer, Sina Ataeian Dena.

This 2023 edition of the Locarno Film Festival, chaired this year by French actor Lambert Wilson, ended on Saturday 12 August. It had programmed 214 films and 466 screenings for eleven days.

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