"A Separation" builds Iranian Oscar hopes

Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:48am EST
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By Jordan Riefe

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood has often criticized Tehran for stifling movie-making, but the acclaimed film "A Separation" is breathing life into Iran's hopes for a rare Oscar success.

Released in the United States on Friday after a year of award wins, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's morally complex look at two contemporary Tehran families could earn Iran's first foreign language Oscar nomination since 1998.

"A Separation" began 2011 as the first Iranian movie ever to win the prestigious Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in February. It went on to win best foreign language film awards from the U.S. National Board of Review and New York Film Critics Circle, and a Golden Globe nomination.

Farhadi told Reuters that recognition in the West had been gratifying and that he hoped the Oscar buzz will inspire filmmakers in other parts of the world.

"Under difficult conditions you can make films," he said. "If filmmakers from my country can make it to the Oscars, this can be an important message for other filmmakers."

If "A Separation" makes it to the foreign language Oscar short-list of five on January 26, it will be the first Iranian film to be nominated since "Children of Heaven" in 1998.

The film scored a rare 100 percent positive score on U.S. aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes this week, putting it among the best movies -- in any language -- of 2011.

Just three months ago, Hollywood organizations representing writers, directors, actors and the group that awards the Oscars, issued a sharply-worded statement lending their support to jailed Iranian filmmakers.   Continued...