Dariush Mehrjui and Vahideh Mohammadifar found dead in their home

Iranian police launch murder investigation

by Jennie Kermode

A murder investigation has been launched after the filmmaker Dariush Mehrjui and his wife, Vahideh Mohammadifar, were found dead in their home in Zibadasht, outside Tehran, last night.

Dariush Mehrjui
Dariush Mehrjui Photo: Armin Karami

The grisly discovery was made by the couple's daughter, Mona, during a routine visit. When no-one answered the door as expected, she let herself in and found that they had both been stabbed in the neck. She immediately alerted the police, who confirmed the time of death within two hours and began pursuing leads, though their most recent statement has confirmed that at this point it remains unclear who was responsible or whether one or multiple people were involved.

The Iranian media have speculated on the possibility that the attack was linked to an Instagram post in which an unknown person threatened to stab Mohammadifar.

83-year-old Mehrjui received international acclaim during his lengthy career as a film director, with works which included The Cow, The Pear Tree, Leila, Apparition and Centauri. A centaur prop used in the latter film was stolen from his home during a recent break-in.

Speculation has also arisen concerning possible state involvement in the killings following a recent crackdown on filmmakers perceived as critical of government policies. This included the sentencing of actresses Azadeh Samadi, Leila Bolukat and Afsaneh Bayegan in July. Mehrjui had been an outspoken critic of state censorship throughout his career and recently protested the banning of some of his own work.

Mohammadifar was a screenwriter who worked alongside her husband on several films and also starred in Leila. She was 54.

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