Death and the judge (2017)


The documentary, “ Death and the Judge”, revolves around Iran’s most famous criminal judge, Azizmohammadi. He served as a criminal judge for 45 years and issued about 4500 death sentences; a record in not only Iran but also the world. This documentary looks into his personal and professional life as he is followed within his home with his family, in the court of law, and in his retirement days. The ultimate purpose of the documentary is to deduce the role of death in the judge’s life as he either takes life away from criminals or death comes to his loved ones. During his retirement, he is once again given the choice between the life and death of a person, despite no longer being a judge.

Death and the Judge is a 2018 documentary film directed by Hassan Khademi.[1] The film narrates the life and career of Nourollah Aziz-Mohammadi, an Iranian criminal judge who has issued more than 4 thousand death sentences during his career.[2][3] The film won the AIFIC Award at the Iran’s Cinema Verite Film Festival and the Bertha Fund Award at the Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival.[4][5]


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 courtroom 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 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.” (Journeyman Pictures)

Azizmohammadi is Iran’s most famous criminal judge, holding the record for the number of death sentences anyone criminal judge has sentenced in Iran, and perhaps the world. Following Azizmohammadi and his 45 years of service as a criminal judge, DEATH AND THE JUDGE tell the story of a man who spends his days dealing with decisions of life and death both inside and outside of his work. (Big Sky documentary film festival)

This documentary has won a prestigious Fund from IDFA Bertha Fund in 2014 and It attended in Doc for Sale in IDFA-International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (2016)

  1. Big sky documentary film festival – Feb 2017
  2. Iran International Documentary Film Festival (Cinema Verite)

To watch the trailer go to

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