The 84th Annual Academy Awards marked a very important historical event; an Iranian film won an Oscar for best foreign language film for the very first time. Last Sunday marked another important event: for the first time in my life, I watched the Oscars. I didn’t watch the award show because I wanted to seem culturally pertinent and chime in on the conversation at work the next day, but because I wanted to partake in that one very special (potential) moment in time where an Iranian film was celebrated and recognized as equal to that of other films. And that’s exactly what happened.
As the film’s director, Asghar Farhadi, walked to the stage in an applause-filled auditorium, I wondered how many people he’d thank in an elaborate speech. Contrary to the typical Oscar acceptance speech, Farhadi’s remarks were concise and powerful. He dedicated his award to the people of Iran, a people he described as “respect[ing] [of] all cultures and civilizations and despite hostility and resentment.”
Farhadi went on to say, “In a time of tug-of-war, intimidation, and aggression is extreme among politicians, the name of our country, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.” Much like the ending of his film, Farhadi leaves audiences to make their own interpretation of “the dust of heavy politics.” Does he mean the politics inside Iran? Or is he referring to the new sanctions and the United States’ fear-inciting rhetoric against the Islamic republic? Is he criticizing the United States and other Western allies of provoking resentment against, as Farhadi described in his Golden Globes acceptance speech, “a peace-loving people?” Whatever the case may be, Iranians are proud to be recognized as Academy Award winners, artists, and lovers, and not as people from the Axis of Evil, as they’ve been labeled for so long.
(For more, please see: “Film: Inner Reflections on A Separation.”)
(The photo of Asghar Farhadi is by Manfred Werner of Vienna, Austria via the Wikimedia Commons, using a Creative Commons license.)