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 Bob Connors: The thing to remember is the video has some actual data but it's conclusions are far fetched and inaccurate. This is a Progressive propaghand…

Who is "Politizane" and What's Next for the Income Inequality Viral Video

Mar 21th, 2015 8:47am

By Ostlee: This makes very sad reading - i feel for the people of Maldives. Everyone should boycott the island as a holiday destination until Nasheed…

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

Mar 13th, 2015 5:35pm

By Ahmed Shahid: Release the first democratically elected president. The only president of Maldives who has reached the people of Maldives, heard them and…

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

Mar 12th, 2015 9:37am

By Hanne Neve: Please take care of your country and the climate by freeing your real selektet president.

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

Mar 11th, 2015 9:09am

By Iqbal: Please release President Nasheed

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

Mar 10th, 2015 10:27pm

By Martha Robertson: I strongly urge the immediate release of Nasheed!

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

Mar 10th, 2015 9:37pm

By Ned Rollins: Bad business, going to bite you.

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

Mar 10th, 2015 3:47pm

By John Painter: The guy isnt a terrorist.

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

Mar 10th, 2015 12:00pm

By Sofia Vera: 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 10th, 2015 11:14am

By Margarett R Mulkey: A civilized society is required of the current government of the Maldives. The world is watching injustice and crimes, and many realized thes…

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

Mar 10th, 2015 10:53am