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The 2012 Oscars was a spectacular night, reminiscent of more succesful Oscar eras past as well as making history for foreign artists. Jean Dujardin became the first French actor to win Best Leading Actor, ‘Saving Face’ marked the first win by a Pakistani director, and the breathtaking drama ‘A Separation’ ran off with the award for Best Foreign Language film, gaining the extinguished pleasure of being the first Iranian movie to do so.
Director Asghar Farhadi is known for his admirable ability to convey the details of modern Iranian society and made an unfaltering portrayal of a family, struggling to come to terms with their disagreements, their responsibilities and the constraints of their culture.
It was a politically tinted acceptance speech that followed the win; director Farhadi noted the immense joy that his achievement would bring his nation. “They are happy not just because of an important award or a film or a filmmaker, but because at the time when talk of war, intimidation, and aggression is exchanged between politicians the name of their country, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.”
He continued, “I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, the people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.”
Backstage, the Oscar press corps caught up with the director and asked him in depth about the obvious geo-political facets of his win.
Q. Congratulations. You’re the first winner from Iran. Obviously the Iranians are so happy for you right now; they’re excited all around the board. What is your message to the people and how this award can impact their lives, especially in such a difficult time?
A. I’m very happy about this award and I believe that Iranian people are also very happy, and this is what really matters to me. I don’t think this would have any specific message to the Iranian people other than the fact that cultural activities are the most important factors that we need to stick to in the world. I will be very happy to know that the image that the world gets from our country, Iran, is a very clear image, that it’s not a vague image. If people around the world try to find the image of one another through the prism of culture, I believe that image would be a more real and a more clear image.
Q. Many congratulations to you. What is it about A Separation which has made it connect with so many people around the world?
A. It is difficult for me to point my finger to a specific thing, but I think what matters is that even though this film was a local film, it could still relate to all people around the world because it is about human relations. What happens in this film is not specific to a region or a geography and perhaps this is the reason why this film is understandable by people throughout the world like Australia, America, Middle East.
Q. Hi, I’m from Israel. And I wanted to know particularly does Iran follow the Oscars at all, and does it mean anything that Iran was nominated with Israel?
A. People in Iran follow the Oscars a lot more than you think they do, and I know for a fact that right now as the event is happening, it’s in the middle of the night in the middle of the morning and people are not sleeping, and I know that they’re following. And perhaps the reason why they follow it this year so closely is because by every means it is a cultural event for them and they would like to hear the name of their country through culture.
Q. I’m from Polish television. Congratulations. You won over ‘In Darkness’. I wonder whether you saw Agnieszka Holland’s movie and if you could please comment on it.
A. Yes, I have seen the film and more than the film I am very much honored by the director herself, and I love her work and believe in her not just for her work but for her humanity, and I saw her a few weeks ago and she told me that even though her film was nominated in the same category, she voted for my film, and to me this was the ultimate greatness of a human being. I believe that your country should be very proud of such a great director who is a great filmmaker and a great human being.
Q. Can you give us an update on how Iranian government has officially reacted to the claim that your movie has won and how you think they’ll react to this Oscar?
A. I really don’t know and I can’t predict what’s going to happen so I’m just going to wait and see how they respond. The Iranian government is not unanimous at all. When this film was nominated some were very happy, some were excited, and some were not as happy, so it’s not like you have the same level of people in the system. To me what matters is that the people of Iran are happy.
Q. Congratulations. The issue of tension, especially nuclear tension between Iran and the United States is very strong right now and frankly a lot of people in this country don’t know what to think of Iran, so what kind of message does your film want to send as you try to communicate between people and not government?
A. What you refer to is what’s happening between the governments, and I don’t have any message for the governments because I believe that this film is communicating with the people and I don’t think that government people are really into cinema.
Image Courtesy of Michael Yada / ©A.M.P.A.S. (Top Image)