Neon Takes North American Rights To Mohammad Rasoulof’s ‘The Seed Of The Sacred Fig’

Neon has grabbed North American rights to The Seed of the Sacred Fig, the latest film from Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof (There Is No Evil, Manuscripts Don’t Burn).

The thriller is set to debut in competition in Cannes on May 24 and marks Rasoulof’s first return to Cannes after being barred from traveling to serve on last year’s Un Certain Regard jury by Iranian officials. The film stars Setareh Abdolmaleki, Zahra Rostami, Amineh Mazroei Arani, and Niousha AkhshiVardoogh. Neon has said it is planning a North American theatrical release in 2024.

More from Deadline

The Seed of the Sacred Fig follows Iman, an investigating judge in the Revolutionary Court in Tehran, who grapples with mistrust and paranoia as nationwide political protests intensify and his gun mysteriously disappears. Suspecting the involvement of his wife Najmeh and his daughters Rezvan and Sana, he imposes drastic measures at home, causing tensions to rise. Step by step, social norms and the rules of family life are being suspended.

The film is produced by Rasoulof, Amin Sadraei, Mani Tilgner, Rozita Hendijanian, Jean-Christophe Simon, and co-produced by ARTE France Cinéma with the support of Aide aux Cinémasdu Monde, Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, and Institut français with the support of MOIN Film Fund Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein. Production companies are Germany’s Run Way Pictures and France’s PARALLEL45. Films Boutique is handling the worldwide sales rights to the film, with PyramideFilms set to distribute in France this fall.

The deal was negotiated by Neon’s VP of Acquisitions Sarah Colvin with Films Boutique / Parallel 45’s Jean-Christophe Simon and Film Boutique’s Julien Razafindranaly on behalf of the filmmakers.

It’s still unclear whether Rasoulof will be present at the film’s Cannes debut after it was announced on Monday that he was currently in an “undisclosed location in Europe” after fleeing Iran. Rasoulof had been handed an eight-year prison sentence by Iranian authorities. In a statement shared with the international press, Rasoulof said: “I strongly object to the unjust recent ruling against me that forces me into exile.”

Rasoulof has been in the crosshairs of Iran’s hardline Islamic Republic government throughout his career for challenging its authoritarian rule. In his latest brush with Iran’s hardline regime, he was arrested in July 2022 for signing a petition titled “Lay Down Your Arms” calling on security forces to exercise restraint in relation to popular protests.

He was released on a temporary basis in February 2023 from Tehran’s Evin jail due to ill health and has been under house arrest ever since. Last year, he was invited to serve on the Cannes Un Certain Regard Jury but was unable to accept the invitation after being barred from leaving Iran.

The director has a long relationship with Cannes. His films Manuscripts Don’t Burn (2013) and A Man Of Integrity (2017) world premiered in Un Certain Regard in 2013 and 2017, winning the Fipresci Prize and best film prize respectively. News of today’s deal will immediately catapult Rasoulof to the top of all Palme d’Or chatter on the Croisette. Neon has acquired a historic four consecutive Palme d’Or winners (last year’s Anatomy of a Fall, 2022’s Triangle of Sadness, 2021’s Titane and 2019’s Parasite), thus earning them the nickname “the Palme d’Or whisperers”.

Best of Deadline

Sign up for Deadline's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.