Spirit of Cinema Award

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Spirit of Cinema Award

Mahnaz Mohammadi


The 27th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) will honour Iranian filmmaker and women’s rights activist Mahnaz Mohammadi with the ‘Spirit of Cinema’ award. The ‘Spirit of Cinema’ award, introduced last year to honour filmmakers whose passion for cinema is unflinchingly carried forward in spite of the adversities faced by them. And those who turn their art into a tool of resistance. Kurdish filmmaker Lisa Calan was honoured with the maiden award.

Mahnaz Mohammadi was born in Tehran. She is a filmmaker, actor, and women's rights activist. She has directed the debut short documentary Women without Shadows in 2003. The film depicted the lives of homeless and abandoned women in a state-run shelter, and has been screened and awarded in several international film festivals. Her major documentaries include the feature documentary Travelogue and We Are Half the Iran’s Population of which she was the executive producer. Travelogue was shot on a train between Tehran and Ankara where she directly interviews the people leaving Iran.

Son-Mother (2019) is her fiction feature debut, which was premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film received the special jury award at the Alice nella Città section of the 14th Rome Film Festival. It also won the Amnesty International Febiofest Award 2020.

The 2011 Cannes film festival saw her in a leading role in French-Iranian director Reza Serkanian’s Ephemeral Marriage.

The inspiring filmmaker has been vocal about her opinions and works for women’s rights in Iran. For the past several years, she has been active in the ongoing protests in Iran, especially after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, after she was arrested for not wearing the hijab as per government diktats.

The Iranian security forces had arrested Mahnaz Mohammadi several times since 2007, with the latest instance being during the protests demanding justice for Amini. Travel bans have also been imposed on her, preventing her from making her appearance at some major film festivals.


I am both a woman and a filmmaker - sufficient to be arrested” 

- Mahnaz Mohammadi told IFFK in an email communication.