Opening 13 Aug 2015
In the Iranian film Manuscripts Don’t Burn by Mohammad Rasoulof, we see a regime which censors everything. It begins with a group of old men who are hiding several copies of an event that took place but was never publicized. The main author knows he is ill and wants to see his daughter before he dies, so he tries to negotiate with the head of censorship to get his book printed. The film gives a penetrating feeling that this unwritten manuscript is witnessing the injustices that are occurring in this creative community. If ever there was a feeling of being watched, this film has done that very convincingly. From the spying to the torturing of the victims, we see the disintegration of an artistic dream and the helplessness that the people feel when confronted with a restrictive government.
Manuscripts Don’t Burn was finished in 2013 and then showed at the 2013 Cannes film festival. Since then it has been on tour to many film festivals, including the 2013 Filmfest Hamburg, up to November 2014 when it last appeared at the St. Louis, USA, International film festival. Due to censorship in Iran and, in order to protect the safety of the participants, no actors are identified by name. Germany is the fourth country to show it mainstream after the United Kingdom, Poland, and the Netherlands. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)