Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Indiewire logo

Will "A Separation" Oscar Win Hurt or Help Iranian Cinema?

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik February 6, 2012 at 9:47AM

It's practically a forgone conclusion that "A Separation," Asghar Farhadi's incisive examination of domestic and class struggle in Iran, will win the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the forthcoming Oscars. As I've mentioned before, the film reveals universal truths about fidelity and concealing it that transcends borders, and as of last weekend, I believe the movie became the top-grossing Iranian film in the U.S. ever (CORRECTION: Not yet, it's still got half-a-million to go to beat Majid Majidi's 2000 release "Color of Paradise"). It's a strong film, worthy of its screenplay nomination, as well, and by all measures, such success and accolades should be cause for celebration in the Iranian film industry. But it's not.
3

It's practically a forgone conclusion that "A Separation," Asghar Farhadi's incisive examination of domestic and class struggle in Iran, will win the award for Best Foreign Language Film at the forthcoming Oscars. As I've mentioned before, the film reveals universal truths about fidelity and concealing it that transcends borders, and as of last weekend, I believe the movie became the top-grossing Iranian film in the U.S. ever (CORRECTION: Not yet, it's still got half-a-million to go to beat Majid Majidi's 2000 release "Color of Paradise"). It's a strong film, worthy of its screenplay nomination, as well, and by all measures, such success and accolades should be cause for celebration in the Iranian film industry. But it's not.

According to The Guardian, a backlash is brewing in Iran: On state TV, Masoud Ferasati, an Iranian writer, said: "The image of our society that A Separation depicts is the dirty picture westerners are wishing for." Ferasati added that A Separation should not be welcomed by Iranians. Apparently, his comments have been echoed across the Iranian establishment.

The struggle to criticize or champion the film falls in line with Iran's often complex relationship with its artists: On one hand, they want to take pride in their countrymen who create internationally recognized works of art; on the other, the strict Islamic regime is highly nervous about the way the country is represented.

Director Jafar Panahi and countless others have been arrested, harrassed and even imprisoned over the years, so the hostile reception by the Iranian authorities is nothing new, of course. But unlike Panahi, Farhadi's criticisms towards the Iranian state are arguably non-existent. If "A Separation" presents a less rosey view of Iranian life, the film's initial set-up seems to chastise the female protagonist for wanting to leave the country and her family behind -- which would seem to please hardliners. While this situation is complicated as the film goes on, you'd think conservatives would complement this element of the film. (Popular Iranian melodramas can be far more harsh and histrionic, from what I've seen.)

At a time when relations between Iran and the West couldn't be more contentious, you'd think a good work of art could help break down some walls between them. But no government--not in the U.S. either, I should add--likes to let someone else come along and make bridges without their approval. It takes away their power. And I think that's one of the reasons why the film isn't being universally accepted at home. Success spoils the government's ability to censor and control. Just look at all the trouble Panahi has caused them.

This article is related to: Iran, Asghar Farhadi

Follow us

E-Mail Updates



Recent Comments

By Niccolo Ungaro: I support Presdient Nasheed and add my name to this letter of support for his release.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 11:10am

By Niccolo Ungarp: I support Presdient Nasheed and add my name to this letter of support for his release.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 11:10am

By Abdul Majid: President Nasheed is our only hope for democracy in my country. This country cannot go forward with him in jail. Please help secure his…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 7:46am

By imran: As a maldivian myself I call upon the international community to fight against the fabricated accusations Against president nasheed.the real…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 5:12am

By Ahmed Aslam: I support president Nasheed! He has been jailed and tortured several times over the last 25 years fighting for democracy and human rights

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 4:38am

By Ahmed Iyaz: President Mohamed Nasheed is the only President who gave Maldivians freedom of expression. I'm totally against of unlawful arrest of him and…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 3:58am

By Eugene Jarecki: I lend my voice passionately to this cause. It is of the utmost importance.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 3:03am

By Ahmed: Former President Nasheeds regime was a disaster to Maldives. A real dictator. Forcefuly arrested the Chief Judge at midnight while sleeping…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 2:06am

By Mohamed Salih Hassan: Former President Mohamed Nasheed should get fair trial. Call current govt of Maldives to hear majority of people's voice.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 6th, 2015 2:01am

By Mohamed Shareef: my Dear HEP Yamin. Please Release Ex- HEP Mohamed Nasheed from Custody, Because PG& You create & Make This case Against him He…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 5th, 2015 11:27pm