“There Is No Evil” explores the moral dilemma of those who carry out executions and the consequences of defiance for them and those around them.
Director Mohammad Rasoulof, whose film shows that there are costs to bravery and cowardice, was not allowed to leave Iran to snatch the prize: he faces propaganda charges over his earlier films.
His daughter Baran, who starred in one episode of the four-part film, won the award on his behalf in the German capital and later caught up with the smartphone cameras where the director addressed a news conference via video call.
“This movie is about people taking responsibility,” he said. “I wanted to talk about people pushing responsibility away from themselves and saying that the decision is made by higher powers. But they can say no really, and that’s their strength.”
Each of the film’s episodes depicts a man chosen to carry out an execution: some refuse, some obey. But whatever path they choose, the consequences, good and bad, for them and their loved ones, echo the decades.
Shot inside, in the evenings, or in remote rural locations to avoid catching the attention of authorities, the film had risks to cast and crew who had made a decision to “put their lives at risk to make the film” this, “says producer Farzad Pak.
Jury president, British actor Jeremy Irons, noted how the film showed “on the web an authoritarian regime weaves into ordinary people, drawing them towards inhumanity,” noting that the film’s lessons about individual responsibility go far beyond Iran.
Rights groups say Iran committed at least 227 people in 2019. Capital crimes include “insulting the Prophet”, same-sex relations, adultery and non-violent drug crimes, according to Human Rights Watch.
Asked for suggestions circulating on Iranian social media that the film was favored for its political message, producer Kaveh Farnam said: “Every time an independent Iranian film wins an award the regime says it all worthless, they say we’re taking advantage of the situation in the west. ”
The Silver Bear went second to Eliza Hittman’s “Never Rarely Sometimes”, the story of two teenagers from rural United States challenging anti-abortion activists, poverty, physical and mental harassment, and expensive healthcare to get a pregnancy termination.
Hong Sangsoo from Korea won best director Silver Bear for “The Woman Who Ran,” a miniature about female friendship, loneliness, introverted men, and a cat who, while filming washing himself and yawning, left audiences in stitches of laughter.