Acclaimed Iranian film triumphs in Berlin
By Mike Collett-White and Annika Breidthardt
BERLIN (Reuters) - Iranian drama "Nader and Simin: A Separation" won the Golden Bear for best picture at the Berlin film festival on Saturday, while its ensemble cast also picked up the best actor and actress prizes on a triumphant night.
Director Asghar Farhadi's portrayal of a marriage in crisis was firm favorite for the coveted award, and its victory was the first for an Iranian picture, Berlin organizers said.
In the movie, one family is pitted against another in a gripping legal tussle which highlights the gap between middle class "intellectuals" and poorer, traditional Iranians for whom religious beliefs and honor tend to be more important.
It was praised for its subtle exploration of Iran's class divisions and religious conservatism, which it managed to combine with the tension of a crime thriller. The acting awards were a bonus for Farhadi, whose daughter Sarina starred.
Farhadi paid tribute to fellow Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi, who was unable to accept Berlin's invitation to sit on the main jury after being sentenced to six years in jail and banned from making movies or traveling abroad for 20 years.
He stands accused of inciting opposition protests in 2009 and making a film without permission, and his sentence has caused an outcry in the movie making world.
"I want to remind you of Jafar Panahi," Farhadi told the glitzy awards ceremony. "I really think his problem will be solved, and I hope he will be the one standing here next year."
When asked to speak about the situation in Iran, he replied: "I can either say what you want me to say and the result would be that I get into trouble and couldn't make films anymore. Continued...