Salute to Os­car win­ner can­celed

The Washington Times Daily - - Life - BY NASSER KARIMI

ITEHRAN, IRAN ra­nian au­thor­i­ties can­celed a cer­e­mony Mon­day in honor of the coun­try’s Os­car-win­ning di­rec­tor even though the gov­ern­ment had hailed his win as a triumph over a com­peti­tor from Is­rael.

The event for As­ghar Farhadi, whose movie “A Sepa­ra­tion” won the Os­car last month for best for­eign film, was scrapped abruptly af­ter au­thor­i­ties de­nied per­mis­sion, ac­cord­ing to the semiof­fi­cial Ilna news agency.

There were no de­tails on why a per­mit was de­nied, but some Ira­nian con­ser­va­tives were up­set with the film’s themes: do­mes­tic tur­moil, gen­der in­equal­ity and the de­sire by many to leave the coun­try.

Ilna said two cinema groups, the Cen­ter for Di­rec­tors of Ira­nian Cinema and the High Coun­cil of Pro­duc­ers of Ira­nian Cinema, is­sued a state­ment de­cry­ing the can­cel­la­tion. All public events in Iran need gov­ern­ment ap­proval.

“We in­tended to have a sim­ple and friendly meet­ing to say ‘Thank you’ for the great achieve­ment you brought Iran and Ira­nian cinema, but the cul­tural cus­to­di­ans did not let us re­al­ize this,” the state­ment said, ad­dress­ing Mr. Farhadi.

“We deeply re­gret this,” the state­ment added. There was no im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion from Mr. Farhadi.

Iran had wel­comed Mr. Farhadi’s Os­car as the movie beat an Is­raeli film and three oth­ers in the for­eign-lan­guage cat­e­gory, de­scrib­ing it as a con­quest for Ira­nian cul­ture and a blow for Is­rael’s per­ceived out­sized in­flu­ence in Amer­ica.

But Ira­nian hard-lin­ers also were up­set by the movie’s ex­po­sure of trou­bles in Ira­nian so­ci­ety through the story of a col­laps­ing mar­riage.

Au­thor­i­ties have long had an un­easy re­la­tion­ship with the coun­try’s film­mak­ers, and in­flu­en­tial cler­ics of­ten have de­nounced do­mes­tic cinema as dom­i­nated by Western-tainted lib­er­als and po­lit­i­cal dis­senters. Some di­rec­tors and ac­tors have faced ar­rest or fled the coun­try.

In Jan­uary, au­thor­i­ties or­dered the clo­sure of the House of Cinema, an in­de­pen­dent film group that had op­er­ated for 20 years and counted Iran’s top film­mak­ers, in­clud­ing Mr. Farhadi, among its mem­bers.

Last year, film di­rec­tor Ja­far Panahi, who won awards at Cannes, Venice and other ma­jor film fes­ti­vals, was sen­tenced to six years of house ar­rest and a 20-year ban on film­ing af­ter be­ing con­victed of “mak­ing pro­pa­ganda” against Iran’s rul­ing sys­tem.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A cer­e­mony in Iran to honor di­rec­tor As­ghar Farhadi, here with his best for­eign lan­guage film Os­car for “A Sepa­ra­tion,” was can­celed abruptly Mon­day. Hard-lin­ers re­port­edly were up­set with the film’s treat­ment of prob­lems in Ira­nian so­ci­ety.

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