Famed Iranian film director Dariush Mehrjui (The Cow, The Pear Tree) was murdered, along with his wife, in a stabbing attack by an unknown assailant at their home in Iran, Iranian state media reported on Sunday.
The official IRNA news agency quoted Hossein Fazeli, a judiciary official, as saying that Mehrjhi and his wife, Vahideh Mohammadifar, were discovered dead at their home with knife wounds in their necks. Fazeli said the bodies were discovered by the director’s daughter, Mona Mehrjui, at the couple’s home in a suburb outside the Iranian capital Tehran.
Mehrjui, 83, was best known for his neo-realistic films from the early 1970s that helped launch a new wave of Iranian cinema. He was a favorite on the international festival scene since The Cow, his second feature, won the FIPRESCI International Film Critics Award at the 1971 Venice Film Festival. Other honors included the Un Certain Regard award in Cannes in 2002 for To Stay Alive, the Silver Hugo award at the Chicago Film Festival in 1998 for The Pear Tree, and top honors at the 1993 San Sebastian Film Festival for Sara.
Like most Iranian directors, Mehrjui fought state censorship his entire career, but he was one of the more outspoken critics of Tehran’s Islamic regime. Last year, he posted a video blasting the government for the suppression of his last, now likely final, feature, A Minor.
Iran’s state media news agency IRNA said authorities were investigating the killings but did not speculate on a possible motive. Mehrjui’s wife had recently posted on social media about a knife threat.