Prominent Iranian filmmaker, Dariush Mehrjui, and his actress wife, Vahideh Mohammadifar, were found dead in their Zibadasht town residence in Alborz province, northern Iran, on Saturday evening, in an apparent homicide.
Judiciary official Hossein Fazeli said the couple were killed in their home in Kajarj, 30 kilometres west of Tehran. The couple, aged 83 and 58, were found with fatal knife wounds to their necks, Iranian official agency IRNA reported.
Mehrjui’s daughter, Mona, reported that her father had invited her to dinner at around 8:50 pm on Saturday. When she arrived approximately two hours later, she made the grim discovery of her parents’ lifeless bodies.
Iran International reported that the couple had received several death threats from unidentified individuals in the weeks leading up to the incident. Although Mehrjui reported these threats to the police on several occasions, the police did not take them seriously.
Mohammadifar had previously shared her concerns about receiving threats of violence via her social media account. However, Tasnim news agency, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, reported that the family had not officially filed a complaint with the police.
Although the motive for the murders has not yet been officially revealed, a theory circulating online suggested that the incident may be linked to the politically motivated serial killings known as the ‘Iranian Chain Murders‘. These assassinations took place between 1988 and 1998. They involved the targeted killing and disappearance of Iranian dissident intellectuals.
Mehrjui’s commitment to fighting censorship was well known. He was a vocal opponent of the security measures imposed on Iranian cinema. “I can no longer tolerate this,” he declared in a 2022 video message about the cancellation of the screening of his film La Minor (A Minor). “I am ready to call together my team and to stage a protest at the Ministry of Culture. I am determined to face this challenge.”
Mehrjui, celebrated for his contributions to Iranian cinema, was a prominent figure in the Iranian New Wave, a cinematic movement renowned for its commitment to realism. He initiated this movement in 1969 with his film Gāv (The Cow). Mehrjui’s filmography boasts several other iconic works, including Hamoun, Dayereh Mina, Sara, Pari, Leila, Mum’s Guest, and Santouri.