At Oscars, Director of “A Separation” Slams War Talk

Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose film “A Separation,” won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film this year, had this to say in his acceptance speech:

“At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to be very happy. They are happy not just because of an important award or a film or a filmmaker–but because at a 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. I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, a people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.”

Farhadi appeals to the Iranian “people” as a whole, distinguishing between them and “politicians,” presumably both Iranian and American politicians. The politicians are about intimidation and aggression, but the Iranian “people” “respect all cultures and civilizations” and oppose hostility.

It has to be admitted that the political classes of both the US and the Iran, who are edging us all closer to war, are pretty despicable, whereas opinion polling shows opposition to war among the people.

The film and its prominence are resonating among the large Iranian-American community of Southern California.

As the LAT article notes, the film is inevitably read politically by many expatriate Iranians.

But there is one feature of the film that is political in a US context, as well. The protagonist is charged with murder for causing a miscarriage. That is, the embryo is being viewed as a person by the Iranian judiciary, and so pushing a pregnant woman turns into a charge of murder.

Isn’t that where Rick Santorum and the religious Right, want to take the US, in the direction of the Islamic Republic of Iran?

12 Responses

  1. I’m so happy that The Academy granted this award to “The Separation”. I just hope that Obama can talk the Israelis out of a war with Iran — that is the last this that this world needs at the current moment.

  2. The film is absolutely brilliant, and recognizing it as the best represented a rare moment of artistic integrity on the part of the Academy.

  3. Thank you for posting this – it’s great news – but that was a bit of a cheap shot that you take at the end with the Santorum comment

  4. One difference between the way the fetus is viewed by the Islamic Republic and the U.S. religious right: In Iran, first trimester abortion is generally approved if carrying the fetus is seen to be harmful to the mother (even in a psychological way), and the burden of deciding “harm” is upon the mother and father themselves, not the state. This position is partly rooted in the notion that the fetus is not a human being until the “soul” has been breathed into it, which is supposed to happen at four months.

    • …and this is in stark contrast to the Gulf Arab countries, where abortions are categorically outlawed unless there’s a risk of harm to the mother. Most people don’t realize how progressive Iran really is..

  5. Have not seen the film, although I’ve heard it highly recommended even before this news from The Academy.
    Regarding the fetal personhood commentary, although again I don’t know the context since I haven’t seen the film, it sounds like the law you described in the film exists in the US in most states. There are laws characterizing ‘fetal homicide’, because it is completely unacceptable for someone other than the mother to terminate a pregnancy without the mother’s consent.
    That’s different from prosecutions, actually more frequent in a number of states, holding the mother criminally accountable for miscarriage. (decent news account here link to guardian.co.uk) Mothers shouldn’t be criminalized for intentionally or accidentally causing miscarriages, and obviously not for uncaused miscarriages, because they (should) have the right to terminate a pregnancy. But it’s not unreasonable for someone who assaults a pregnant woman to be held criminally accountable for injury to the fetus if the assault caused that also.

  6. dorud be aghaye asghare farhadi va bazigarane film va hame dastandarcarane film e jodaiye nader az simin. man be onvane yek irani, eftekhare mikonam ke in film barandeye jayezeye oscar shod

  7. Dear Juan,

    You said: “It has to be admitted that the political classes of both the US and the Iran, who are edging us all closer to war, are pretty despicable…”

    I think someone of your calibre ought to exhibit a little more discernment and analysis. The fact is that it is the US and Israel that is using the ‘language of war’ againt Iran, whereas the latter is adopting the ‘defensive language’ to dissuade the actualisation of such intimidating words into concrete hostilities by US/Israel. For Iranian leaders to adopt a weak position of silence and acquiescence in such a scenario is for them to be irresponsible as guardians of Iranian borders.

    Regards

    • Bravo to the director and the film’s participants.

      With Iran, I hope Obama will finally earn his Nobel Peace Prize.

  8. Dear Wayfarer,

    First the obvious: as an Iranian-American I am so so proud and happy for the award, for exactly the reasons Mr. Farhadi described.

    Second, as a “Green Movement” Iranian I think at present, the crisis-needing “political classes” of all 3 countries (U.S., Israel, and Iran) are mutually co-dependent and need “the other” as “enemy.” Given their “colonial” behavior, no one expects the war-mongering “political classes” of Israel and the U.S. to be civilized; but in case of Iran, its ANTI-ISLAMIC post-2009-coup current dictators CLAIM to represent “Islam.” So, per their claim, are they acting in a “divine” manner?

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