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A Separation-Iran's Global Globe Film Winner Banned in Iran
In September 2010, Asghar Farhadi was banned from making the films in Iran by its Ministry of Culture when he commented on during an awards ceremony about several exiled or imprisoned fellow filmmakers. Eventually, Asghar apologized and the decision was reversed.
He apologized because he wanted to make the current Golden Globe best Foreign Film winner, Iran's "A Separation", and may win an Oscar as Best Foreign Film. The film cost $500,000 and has reaped $11 million worldwide. Iran's Ministry of Culture did not support the film, yet, the US did, with $25,000 from the Motion Picture Academy. The film was well received from the start in many languages and nearly all of the movie reviews in the US and elsewhere indicate it is a "must see foreign film" since premiering in Feb. 2011. One reviewer said, " Recalls classic Hitchcock and a feel for ethical nuance that is all his own, Farhadi has hit upon a story about men and women, children and parents, justice and religion in today’s Iran". Famed, Roger Ebert movie critic called it, " a masterpiece that will be watched decades from now".
Yet, despite the praise, Iran and its pressed has trashed the film as "anti-Iranian for its portrayal of social class differences and economic hardships", then Iran's Ministry of Culture (which also banned squirt gun fights by teens in parks) closed the House of Cinema, where most Iranian movies are made because it felt that it might be a place where anti-government sentiment may ferment. Iran has elections in March. Iranian reformists and Green Revolution have called a boycott because it is not democratic, so the election is between the conservatives, namely between Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What a choice between the worse of two evils!
Iranian film is heavily regulated and even this film was as it passed through censors as to what Iran wants the the world to see about it society, yet, despite the film's accolades, Iran's government feels like the House of Cinema was a den of suspicious activity against Iran. The odd thing is that the film was submitted to the international film awards by the very same government!
The movie itself is about a divorce between Nader and Simin after fourteen years of marriage and live with their eleven-year-old daughter Termeh in Tehran. They are upper class, and one parent wants to leave Iran with child. The problem is that a family relative with Alzheimer disease cannot be just be abandoned. After a petition for divorce is denied in their Family Court, the couple splits up and one moves back in with their parents. To take care of the relative while at work, they hire a low class woman who is deeply religious and pregnant which complicates things in taking care of him. So much so, through deception, she is able to get her husband hired also to help her. He is arrested for excessive debt before he can start. The caretaker ties the relative to bed and upon discovering it, the employer goes into a rage, an argument ensues, until tempers flare and the employer pushes her down the stairs and suffers a miscarriage.The morality of all of the characters are called into question as it is revealed in court scenes. Because the employer could go to jail, some of the film is about this.
The film in engrossing as one gets a window into Iran's society even in scenes that are back drops or what it is like in Tehran.