Articles & Notes — December 29, 2011 at 9:22 am

Film critics think Iranian movie can win Oscar

Experts and film critics believe that Iranian director Asqar Farhadi’s “Nader and Simin, A Separation” has a good chance for winning Oscar after it won the Golden Globe.

The Iranian film – which has won many international awards such as the Golden Bear award in Berlin – has its sights on a possible Oscar after a nomination at the Golden Globe awards.

Film’s director Asqar Farhadi who has won many awards at home and abroad during the last year has been camera shy ever since his global success.

However, in a rare interview he said he wants viewers to reflect once they leave the auditorium.

The drama is set in modern-day Tehran. Movie begins with the separation of the titular couple, Nader (Payman Moadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami), who have been granted visas to leave Iran and move to another, unnamed country with their 11-year old daughter Termeh (Sarina Farhadi).

When Nader has a change of heart about leaving the country, claiming that he must stay and care for his father who is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, his wife looks to obtain a divorce. Though the court agrees to the separation, they claim that the father must give his permission for the daughter to emigrate with her mother, something Nader has no intention of doing.

The hiring of a pregnant woman, Razieh (Sareh Bayat), to act as a caregiver for Nader’s father triggers a series of events that finds the film shifting from a domestic drama to a social and judicial procedural, yet with just the right dose of melodrama. More than any other film in recent memory, Nader and Simin deals directly with the various social dynamics that exist in contemporary Iran; between husband and wife, between strangers, and between religion and justice.

The concept of the film came from a number of personal experiences and abstract pictures which had been in Asghar Farhadi’s mind for some time. Once he decided to make the film, about a year before it premiered, it was quickly written and financed.

The film was made without any government support. The production was granted 25,000 US dollars in support from the Motion Picture Association’s APSA Academy Film Fund. Total budget of the film was 500,000 according to Wikipedia.

In September 2010, Farhadi was banned from making the film by the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, because of an acceptance speech held during an award ceremony where he expressed support for several Iranian film personalities.

Notably he had wished to see the return to Iranian cinema by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an exiled filmmaker and Iranian opposition profile, and the imprisoned political filmmaker Jafar Panahi, both of whom had been connected to the Iranian Green Movement. The ban was lifted in the beginning of October after Farhadi claimed to have been misperceived and apologized for his remarks.

The film premiered on 9 February 2011 at the 29th Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran. Six days later it played in Competition at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival.

The film won the Fajr Film Festival’s Crystal Simorghs for Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematographer and Best Sound Recorder. It also received the Audience Favourite Film award. It won the top award, the Golden Bear for Best Film, at the Berlinale Film Festival. The actress ensemble received the Silver Bear for Best Actress, and the actor ensemble the Silver Bear for Best Actor.

In addition it received the Competition Prize of the Ecumenical Jury and the Berliner Morgenpost Readers’ Prize. Isabella Rossellini, the Jury president of the Berlinale Festival, said that the choice of Farhadi’s film for the Golden Bear was “pretty unanimous.”

Farhadi commented that he never would have thought he would win the Golden Bear, and that the film’s victory offered “a very good opportunity to think of the people of my country, the country I grew up in, the country where I learned my stories – a great people”.

Ahmad Miralaii, the director of Iran’s Farabi Cinematic Foundation, said that “Iranian cinema is proud of the awards”, as he welcomed Farhadi at the airport upon the director’s return from Berlin. The film was voted the second best film of 2011 in the annual Sight & Sound critic poll, as well as in the LA Weekly Film Poll 2011. The film was also voted #3 in the annual indieWire critic survey for 2011, #4 in the 2011 poll by Film Comment, and was ranked #5 on Paste Magazine’s 50 Best Movies of 2011.

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