LOS ANGELES — "A Separation" won the Oscar for best foreign language film Sunday night, becoming the first Iranian movie to win the honor.
The film, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, is the story of a married couple who is faced with the decision to either move to another country with their young daughter, or to stay in Iran and look after their father, who has Alzheimers disease.
The film's win comes as as Tehran's nuclear program sparked tension with the UN and several western countries, AFP reported.
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"At the 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, her rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics," Farhadi told the Oscars audience. "I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, the people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment."
"A Separation" has received almost universal critical acclaim, including several awards at the German film festival Berlinale, including best actress and best actor.
Authorities in Tehran initially put several obstacles in the way of the movie, halting filming in late 2010 because Farhadi had spoken out publicly in support of fellow filmmakers deemed to be "anti-regime," AFP reported, including award-winning Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who was sentenced to jail and banned from making any more films in 2010, Reuters reported.
While Farhadi has spoken out against Panahi's arrest, he has also criticized fellow Iranians who emphasize state censorship in order to promote their movies abroad, saying they are as morally culpable as the government officials who censor them, Reuters reported.
The film's story gives surprising, moving insights into Iranian life, and comments both on the difficult estrangement between the lead couple as well as between Iranian classes, AFP reported.
"They (the story strands) are so intertwined that you cannot separate them, and I cannot focus on any one of them. The title 'A Separation' is well-chosen," Peyman Maadi, the film's lead actor, told AFP.
Maadi also told AFP that he felt the film had a "universal" appeal.
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