Leading Iranian director Asghar Farhadi condemned on Saturday the treatment of intellectuals in his country at a Cannes Film Festival press conference marking the premiere of his film about a husband seeking revenge for an attack on his wife.

Farhadi said after his Oscar-winning movie Nader and Simin, A Separation he "found it easy to make films in Iran, which helped to iron out some of the difficulties filmmakers have in the country."

This was despite the dim view that Tehran generally takes of the way leading Iranian directors are celebrated at major film festivals around the world, often banning their award-winning films at home.

The authorities' treatment of intellectuals such as poets and fellow filmmakers "embarrasses me," Farhadi told the Cannes press conference for his film, The Salesman.

"But," he said, "when you have grown up with these obstacles, they become a source of energy," adding he would continue to work mostly in Iran.

Farhadi's movie is about a young couple – Emad and Rana - who move into a new apartment only to face a dramatic change in their life after she is attacked in an incident related to a previous tenant.

As was the case with the other film that premiered at Cannes on Saturday, Dutch-born director Paul Verhoeven's Elle, Farhadi's The Salesman is a tale about revenge.

But while it is the husband, Emad, who seeks revenge for the attack on his wife in The Salesman, it is the victim of a rape in Paul Verhoeven's Elle who seeks revenge.

Farhadi said in making his film he was interested in violence that is somehow justified by the perpetrators.

"Like a terrorist, (the husband) believes he entitled to be violent," said the 44-year-old Farhadi. "He has also built up the reasons to be violent."

After Rana rules out going the police, Emad launches his own increasingly obsessive probe into the assault in a bid to track down the attacker, turning the movie into something of a detective thriller.

"I think a western man might have reacted even more violently," said Taraneh Alidoosti, who plays Rana in the film. "It's a taboo to invade a woman's private sphere.

Emad "feels like what happened to Rana is an assault on his own masculinity" and he acts "out of love for his wife," she said.

Farhadi is returning to Cannes three years after the screening of his movie The Past with The Salesman, which includes references to Arthur Miller's classic Death of a Salesman.

In 2012, Farhadi won the Oscar for the best foreign language film with Nader and Simin, A Separation, which was awarded a series of prizes around the world, including the Berlin Film Festival's Golden Bear for best picture.

Both Farhadi and Elle include strong female characters – both young and old. This has been a feature of this year's Cannes festival, with Rani in The Salesman standing her ground against her husband.

Leading French actress Isabelle Huppert heads a strong French cast in Elle when she plays a top video-game company executive, who is raped in her home and who sets out to turn the tables on her attacker using unconventional methods.

"The film was not a statement about women, but this particular woman," said Huppert, who has appeared in a record 20 entries in Cannes' main competition. She has won the festival's award for best actress twice.

Like Rana in The Salesman, Michele in Elle – for very different reasons – refuses to go the police.

Elle was the Dutch-born Verhoeven's first movie in French and was based on a script by US scriptwriter David Birke that was adapted from the novel Oh... by French writer Philippe Dijian.

Verhoeven's Elle represents his first appearance in Cannes in more than 20 years in a movie-making career that has spanned Europe and the United States and included such definitive US films including Robocop and recently the Dutch World War II thriller Black Book.

Related stories

Star-Studded Cannes Bash Celebrates 70th Anniversary

70th Cannes Film Festival rolls our red carpet

Cannes Film Festival awards

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.