Kino Lorber Opens Iranian Drama ‘Manuscripts Don’t Burn’ on June 13 at MoMA



… the first film since the declaration of the Islamic Republic to confront so directly the brutality of the feared security apparatus.”
– Alissa Simon, Variety

“Demands to be seen as widely as possible.”
– Jonathan Romney, Screen International

Kino Lorber is proud to announce the New York opening of the Iranian drama (and political thriller) Manuscripts Don’t Burn on Friday, June 13, at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.

Written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof (Iron Island, Goodbye), this assured and searing j’accuse of the Iranian status-quo draws from historical events that took place in the 1990s in Iran. Specifically, the film’s story mirrors the struggle between the Iranian government and the country’s Writers’ Association, one of the last institutions within the state to insist on the need for free speech and political independence.

The escalating struggle between the country’s intellectuals and the Iranian intelligence agency lead to the killing (and imprisonment) of several high-profile writers, translators, poets and academics. These events are now known as the Chain Murders of Iran.

Manuscripts Don’t Burn screened at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it won the coveted FIPRESCI Prize. It also played at the Toronto International Film Festival (in the Contemporary World Cinema section).

After a one-week theatrical run at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), starting onFriday, June 13, Rasoulof’s latest will open at select art house theatres in North America, before an eventual VOD, SVOD and home media release.

Mr. Rasoulof’s latest film also continues his defiant return to filmmaking, after he was sentenced by the Iranian Revolutionary Court (in 2010) to six years in jail and a 20-year prohibition from filmmaking. (The prison term was later reduced to one year.) Much like he did with his previous film Goodbye (2012), Rasoulof filmed Manuscripts Don’t Burn without the government’s permission – and in order to maintain the safety of the film’s cast and crew, none of their names are available and/or featured on the film’s billing block.

A botched assassination attempt of a group of writers and intellectuals in Iran quickly turned into a potentially destabilizing event for an ex-intellectual, who’s now the head of the Iranian censorship department. Kasra, one of the writers who was in the bus and witnessed the attempted murder, wrote an eyewitness report of the event and, aware that Iran’s intelligence agency could find the manuscript and destroy it, gave two copies of the documents to two of his friends.

Khosrow, a working-class man with a sick son, together with Morteza, a professional killer, are hired to discover the location of the documents and do whatever is necessary to keep this story under wraps. But forcing old friends to tell on each other isn’t an easy feat.

It is possible that Fourouzadeh, a disabled writer who’s now frustrated with the government’s censorship of his latest book, has one of the copies of the document. He believes that resistance is still an option and chooses to remain defiant; he also insists on circumventing state censorship and wants his friend Kian (a famous poet) to help him publish his book in the black market.

“I’m determined to publish it without permission,” says Fourouzadeh. “Not on the web, a printed edition. I want to touch it and feel that it’s alive.”


But even though Kian tries to be supportive, he doesn’t see a reason to resist. “Cut out the guerrilla act” says Kian. “Fighting and change were 40 years ago. That’s over now. Today’s generation doesn’t give a damn about politics. The Network Generation wants to live.”

What follows is a caustic and despairing story of corruption, betrayal and a state that considers killing its own citizens as a response to resistance. 

After flying to Iran in September, 2013, with the intent of eventually returning to Hamburg in late September, Mr. Rasoulof had his passport confiscated and remains unable to leave Iran until this day.
About Kino Lorber:

With a library of 800 titles, Kino Lorber Inc. has been a leader in independent art house distribution for over 30 years, releasing over 25 films per year theatrically under its KinoLorber, Kino Classics, and Alive Mind Cinema banners, including four Academy Award® nominated films in the last six years. In addition, the company brings over 70 titles each year to the home entertainment market with DVD and Blu-ray releases under its 5 house brands, distributes a growing number of third party labels, and is a direct digital distributor to all major platforms including iTunes, Vimeo, Netflix, HULU, Amazon and others.

About Melissa Hanson

Melissa Hanson aka Dial M For Melissa - Managing Editor / Podcast Producer - Growing up, Melissa’s favorite destination was always the video store and would agonize over whether to watch something new or to rewatch a favorite. Things have not changed. Follow on Twitter @DialMForMelissa

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