2024 | Competition

Statement by Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha

The main actors Lily Farhadpourn and Esmail Mehrabi with a photograph of their absent directors at the Press Conference

February 16, 2024: Although they have been invited to take part in the Competition with their film Keyke mahboobe man (My Favourite Cake), the two directors Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha are unable to come to Berlin. The government of their home country, Iran, has confiscated their passports and imposed a travel ban. Their seats at the Press Conference had to remain empty. However, they did not allow their voices to be banned. Actor Lily Farhadpour read out a statement by Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha in the packed hall:

The original statement in Farsi

Dear Audience, Dear Journalists, Dear Carlo, Mariette and Berlinale Team‪,‬


Today, the film that we spent three years of our lives making will be born by your side‪,‬ unfortunately without our presence. Like parents who are forbidden from laying eyes on their newborn, we have been forbidden from enjoying the feeling of watching our film with you, the discerning audience of this important festival. We are sad and tired, but we are not alone. This is the magic of cinema. Cinema connects us‪,‬ together. It is a window opening‪ onto‬ a place where we meet. Now we are forbidden from joining you and watching a movie on the silver screen that is about love, about life‪,‬ and also about freedom, a lost treasure in our country.

For years, Iranian filmmakers have been making films under restrictive rules, obeying red lines that, when crossed, can lead to years of suspension, prohibition and complicated court cases. A painful experience that we have tasted many times over these last years. In such a deplorable situation, we always continue trying to depict the reality of Iranian society in our films. A reality that is most often lost or obscured by layers of censorship.

We have come to believe that it is no longer possible to tell the story of an Iranian woman while obeying strict laws such as the mandatory hijab. Women for whom the red lines prevent the depiction of their true lives, as full human beings. This time, we decided to cross all of the restrictive red lines, and accept the consequences of our choice to paint a real picture of Iranian women – images that have been banned in Iranian cinema ever since the Islamic Revolution.

MY FAVOURITE CAKE, is a film made in praise of life. This is a story based on the reality of the everyday lives of middle-class women in Iran, a close look at a woman’s solitude as she enters her golden years. A vision of the reality of women’s lives which has not often been told. It is a story that is contrary to the common image of Iranian women, and similar to the life stories of many lonely people on this planet, about savouring the short, sweet moments in life.

Once again, we need to thank the prestigious Berlin Film Festival and its directors, Carlo and Mariette, for their unwavering support and for making it possible to screen this film. We hope that a day will come when we can show this film in our country and for the people of our country. That day will undoubtedly be another day, unlike today, for Iranian cinema and for Iranian people. We hope that day is not too far away.

Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly dedicate our premiere screening to the honorable and brave women of our country who have moved to the front lines of the fight for social change, who are attempting to tear down the walls of outdated and fossilised beliefs, and who sacrifice their lives to achieve freedom.

With love from Tehran,
Maryam Moghaddam & Behtash Sanaeeha

Lily Farhadpour reading out the statement by Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha