Separation, A: First Iranian Film to Win Oscar

Asghar Farhadi’s drama “A Separation,” a complex, riveting film about family, sexual politics, and society, is the most honored foreign language film, a fact that is ironic, cnsidering the tense political relations between the United States and Iran.

“A Separation” won the Golden Globe for foreign film, the Independent Spirit award for international film, and is the first Iranian film to win the foreign-language Oscar.

Farhadi, speaking in both English and Farsi, paid tribute to the people of Iran who respect other cultures and reject the language of violence.

Sandra Bullock made the presentation after speaking in German and saying that nominated films “speak to the common humanity in all of us.”

The Farsi-language pic, centered on a family’s struggle to communicate while undergoing domestic crises, started its awards career a year ago in Berlin, where it won the Golden Bear for best film and Silver Bears for actor and actress.

It’s only the second Iranian film nominated in this category, the first being “Children of Heaven” in 1999. Response has been so strong to the film, originally titled “The Separation of Nader From Simin,” that Farhadi also received an original screenplay Oscar nod. Sony Classics made the pic available to members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science’s writing branch via download.

Critics have touted Farhadi’s ability to show profound insight into the Iranian social fabric via a relatively ordinary premise — the break-up of a 14-year-old marriage.

With no diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Iran, “A Separation” had a relatively low-key profile during the awards season. Though Farhadi is sanctioned by the state of Iran, which submitted the film for its official entry, Iranian officials have been cautious about wholeheartedly endorsing his recognition.

Farhadi attracted notice for defending Iranian directors persecuted in their home country, but “A Separation” evaded censors with a more subtle critique of the government.

Only Academy members who have seen all five contenders were able to take part in the voting for the field, which included “Monsieur Lazhar,” from Canada, directed by Philippe Falardeau; “Footnote,” from Israel, directed by Joseph Cedar; “In Darkness,” from Poland, directed by Agnieszka Holland; and “Bullhead,” from Belgium, directed by Michael Roskam.