An Oscar for Iran

Posted by By at 26 February, at 13 : 41 PM Print

An Oscar for Iran

Iranian film has been around almost as long as the Academy Awards, with the first feature film made in Iran, Abi & Rabi, a silent film by a Russian immigrant named Ovanes Oganians (1897-1961), appearing in 1930. And yet it has taken this long for the Academy to reward an Iranian film.


On March 26, 2012, Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation received the Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category, giving Iranians all over the world cause to celebrate. But history was actually made twice that night, as it also marked the first time that an Iranian film was up for two awards. A Separation was also nominated for Best Screenplay, a prize that ultimately went to Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris.

Iran has had two prior nominations to celebrate, 1998’s Best Foreign Film nomination for Majid Majidi’s Children of Heaven and the 2003 nomination of Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo for Best Supporting Actress in Vadim Perelman’s House of Sand and Fog.

Iran has had plenty of other prior nominations to celebrate:

  • 1997: Habib Zargarpour, Best Effects, Visual Effects, for Twister (D: Jan de Bont)
  • 1998: Hossein Amini (grandson of former Prime Minister Ali Amini), Best Adapted Sceenplay, The Wings of a Dove (D: Iain Softley)
  • 1999: Majid Majidi, Best Foreign Film, Children of Heaven
  • 2000: Mehdi Norowzian (London-based Iranian filmmaker), Best Short Film (Live Action), Killing Joe
  • 2001: Habib Zargarpour gets second nomination, Best Effects, Visual Effects, The Perfect Storm (D: Wolfgang Petersen)
  • 2004: Shohreh Aghdashloo, Best Supporting Actress, House of Sand and Fog (D: Vadim Perelman)
  • 2007: Kami Asgar, Best Achievement in Sound Editing, Apocalypto (D: Mel Gibson)
  • 2008: Marjane Satrapi, Best Animated Feature Film, Persepolis (D: Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud)

As prestigious as all of these nominations are, it is good to finally have an Iranian film win the prize, and such a major prize at that.

Mr. Farhadi is no doubt feeling particular pride in this achievement. His previous film, About Elly, was Iran’s official entry into the 2009 Academy Awards but was not ultimately nominated. Thankfully he did not have to wait too long to be justifiably celebrated. A Separation has proved to be a remarkable commercial success both inside and outside of Iran, and, aside from its historic win at the Oscars, has also garnered more than fifty prestigious international prizes, from Berlinale to the Golden Globes. We are happy to congratulate Mr. Farhadi and the Iranian people for this historic milestone, and doubly so that such a worthy and well-made film was chosen for the honor.



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