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Berlin International Film Festival: Iranian film about executions wins top prize

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Mohammad Rasoulof pictured in 2017Image copyright
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Mr Rasoulof is banned from leaving Iran

A film by an Iranian director about capital punishment has won the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Mohammad Rasoulof was banned from directing in 2017 and produced There Is No Evil, his sixth film, in secret.

He is unable to travel outside Iran due to charges relating to his earlier films.

Mr Rasoulof’s daughter Baran, who also stars in the film, received the Golden Bear on his behalf.

Jury president Jeremy Irons said that the film, which tells four stories about the death penalty, showed “the web an authoritarian regime weaves among ordinary people, drawing them towards inhumanity”.

The second-place award at the festival went to Never Rarely Sometimes Always, a film about abortion in the US by director Eliza Hittman.

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Mr Rasoulof took part in a news conference via a mobile phone held by his daughter Baran

Addressing a news conference by video call, Mr Rasoulof explained that There Is No Evil was about “people taking responsibility”.

“I wanted to talk about people who push responsibility away from themselves and say that the decision is taken by higher powers,” he said. “But they can actually say no, and that’s their strength.”

  • Why Iran creates some of the world’s best films

“The story of each part of the film is based on my own experience,” Mr Rasoulof said in a Skype interview with the Berlin festival published the day before the awards were announced.

He went on to describe how one of the film’s four episodes came about after he saw a man, who had interrogated him while he was in prison, coming out of a bank.

After following the man for a while, “I realised how normal he was and how much he resembled all other people. I realised that there was no monster involved, there was no evil in front of me, just a person who has not questioned his own actions.”

According to international rights groups, hundreds of people are executed every year in Iran.

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Media captionIran has a prolific film industry, as Kim Ghattas reported in 2015



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Harvey Weinstein: Four more women accuse producer of assault

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Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison earlier this year

Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein has been accused of sexual assault by four further women as he serves a 23-year prison sentence.

Court documents filed in New York on Thursday allege several sexual offences dating from 1984 to 2013.

One of the four anonymous women was 17 at the time of an alleged attack.

Weinstein’s legal representative told BBC News: “Mr Weinstein intends to defend against the claims filed anonymously against him yesterday.”

The lawyer, Imran H Ansari of Aidala, Bertuna & Kamins PC, added: “Some of these claims, including those alleged to have occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, may be barred by the applicable statute of limitations, and not subject to any exceptions under the law, as these plaintiffs do not appear to be complainants in Mr Weinstein’s criminal case.”

  • Weinstein convicted of rape and sexual assault
  • How the Harvey Weinstein scandal unfolded

The latest legal cases allege multiple sexual offences against four women, who currently reside in Tennessee, New York, Ecuador and Hungary.

Some of the attacks allegedly took place after meetings with Weinstein at the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals.

The new allegations include:

  • A 43-year-old woman from Tennesee claims that in 1994, when she was 17, Weinstein “falsely imprisoned, sexually assaulted, sexually battered and raped her” in his hotel room. The plaintiff, who wanted to break into the entertainment industry, alleges Weinstein demanded she perform oral sex on him.
  • A 70-year-old woman from Ecuador claims that in 1984, when she was 34, Weinstein allegedly pinned her against a door and fondled her in his hotel room in Cannes, when she was looking to start a career as a documentary filmmaker.
  • A 38-year old woman said she met Weinstein in Manhattan in 2008 and he offered to “help take her career to the next level”. He allegedly raped her in his Soho apartment a few days later, telling her he would ruin her if she told anyone.
  • A 35-year-old woman from Hungary claims that in 2013, when she was 26, she met Weinstein at the Venice Film Festival. A few months later, he allegedly forced her to perform oral sex on him when she met him in a hotel room.

Allegations against Weinstein began to emerge in October 2017, when The New York Times first reported incidents dating back decades.

At least 80 women have since accused him of sexual misconduct, including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman and Salma Hayek.

The allegations were at the centre of the #MeToo movement that inspired women to go public with misconduct allegations against powerful men.

Weinstein issued an apology acknowledging he had “caused a lot of pain”, but denied any allegations of non-consensual sex.

In February, Weinstein was convicted in New York City of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act, and later sentenced to 23 years in jail.

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Remi Wolf on how she makes music videos in lockdown

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Music videos are often big budget affairs filmed in glamorous locations with a cast and crew to rival a movie. But what happens when a pandemic strikes and everyone is told to practise social distancing and not leave their home?

Rising star Remi Wolf told the BBC’s Sophie van Brugen how she got around the problem, and what coronavirus could mean for the future of the music video.



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Coronavirus: Cultural sector “first to suffer and last to come back” – Bjorn Ulvaeus

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Bjorn Ulvaeus, one quarter of ABBA and President of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) said the cultural sector is ‘extra vulnerable’ due to Coronavirus and urged governments for support.

The musician told the BBC that he hopes to use technology to help creators get payments ‘more efficiently and accurately’.



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