License denied

Following the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Iran witnessed Mullahs seize power. As such, Islamic rulings were integrated into the lifestyle of Iranians – some as laws and others as unwritten rules. An example of the latter is a motorcycle ban on women; although there is no law against women riding motorcycles, the police still do not issue motorcycle licenses to women.

Baran Hadizadeh, a 30-year-old woman, is a highly skilled motorcyclist in Iran whose dream is to be able to drive around the streets of Tehran, but due to the aforementioned circumstances, her terrain is limited to the mountains. In response, she chooses to protest and complain against the police in court for not issuing her a motorcycle license. This documentary, therefore, follows Baran’s life, with particular focus on her complaint process in court.

Death and the Judge in North America

Death and the Judge screened in 26 cinemas in North America. In 52th of Docunight which was dedicated to Death and the Judge, this film was screened in LA, Washington, New York, Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, San Diego, Minneapolis, Durham, Albany, Irvine, Eugene, Pittsburgh, State College, Bloomington, Ann Arbor, Calgary, Waterloo. Hamilton, Charlotte in the first days of Dec 2018.

Making the “Death and the Judge”

It has always been questionable for the director, Hassan Khademi, whether the person who orders the execution of thousands of people is disgusting or he is an ordinary people who does his job accurately. Death and the judge wants to answer this question. It should be noted that the production a film in the field of retaliation and execution is very challenging in Iran and director should respect the political and social red lines. It took four years to make the film and during these years, the film director has accompanied the judge.

 

Watching the “Death and the Judge”

An Iranian judge balances the scales of justice

Death And The Judge

Iran’s most famed and feared judge has sentenced around 4,000 people to death, more than any other judge in the country’s history. This powerful documentary offers unique access into the professional and private lives of Iran’s most feared legal official. It constructs an intimate yet chilling portrait of a man who spends his days confronting decisions about life and death, both in the court room and in the course of his own life.

“I can’t sleep at night,” admits Azizmohammadi. However, it is not the fact that he has condemned 4000 people to death that keeps him awake; rather, he worries about the cost of construction of his new house. Azizmohammadi is the most famous criminal court judge in Iran, and has served for over 4 decades, presiding over countless horrifying crimes.

In Iran, the punishment for murder is often the death sentence. It is the decision of the victim’s closest relatives whether the murderer dies, but it falls to the judge to pronounce them innocent or guilty. Yet Azizmohammadi has no qualms about the thousands he has condemned. “I know those I convicted deserved it,” he says, “If you interview inmates about me, they’ll say they are scared, because I am very meticulous.” His family, whom he often presents with the appalling details of the crimes he adjudicates, give him their full support. “He never issued an unfair verdict,” claims his wife. His daughter feels similarly. “I’ve asked Father many times if he made a mistake. He always believed in what he had done.”

However, he is not without compassion. “We decided to give him a lesser term because he has recently married,” he says, referring to a man found guilty of being an accessory to a murder, “If we give him a long sentence, it’d be a heavy blow for his wife. Criminal punishment is not just hurting the culprit.”

Azizmohammadi’s personal life has been plagued by tragedy. Two brothers and his mother had died before he reached adulthood. His father was murdered brutally by a drug addict. He keeps the graphic images of his father’s cadaver on his laptop, ready for when his killer comes on trial. He has seen violent death so often it has become commonplace. “In my judicial work, most of the cases involved corpses and blood. Death truly lives with me. It is my doppelganger.”

 

A Pilgrim from the East

The documentary has directed by Hassan Khademi. It is in the last stage of production. Dariush Shayegan is a polymath with a breadth of knowledge encompassing both east and west. He was brought up in Iran, attended boarding school in England, studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris, literature in Switzerland and was a professor of Indian studies and comparative philosophy at Tehran university between 1968 and 1979. He has written 17 books — mostly in French — covering Hinduism, Sufism, Islamic societies, Persian poetry, and cultural schizophrenia.