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"A Separation" won the Oscar for best foreign
language film on Sunday, becoming the first
Iranian movie to win the honor.
By Ronald Grover
LOS ANGELES | Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:36pm ES
Written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, the domestic drama
focuses on a couple going through a divorce and touches on
traditions, justice, and male-female relationships in modern Iran.

"A Separation" was regarded as the front-runner for the foreign
language Oscar after sweeping the awards circuit in Europe and
the United States. It also garnered an Oscar nomination for best
original screenplay.

It was the second Iranian film to be nominated for an Oscar, and
the first to win.
"At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to be very happy," director Farhadi said while accepting the
Oscar.

"At a time of tug of war, intimidation and aggressions exchanged between politicians, the name of their county, 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, the people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and
resentment," he added.

"A Separation" has received almost universal critical acclaim, gracing many top 10 lists for the best movies of 2011.

Two nights before the Oscar ceremony, Israeli and Iranian artists came together in a show of peace, said Lior Ashkenazi, a star of the Israeli
foreign language Oscar entry "Footnote".

"At the Academy event in hour of the foreign films, we sat, spoke and all the veils came off," Ashkenazi told Israel's Army Radio. "They are warm
hearted people. We invited them to Tel Aviv and they invited us to Tehran."

Farhadi, who works and lives in Iran, has been reluctant to entertain theories that his film is a parable for the struggles between Iran's young
dissidents and its paternalistic mullahs, saying it is up to audiences to take from the movie what they will.

Others have interpreted "A Separation" as a comment on class differences, or as a critique of Iran's justice system, or a clash between
modernity and tradition.

Farhadi made the movie under Iranian censors who impose strictures on filmmakers in the name of Islamic morality and national morale. But
he has said he was not confronted with censorship.

Award-winning Iranian director Jafar Panahi was sentenced to jail in 2010 and banned from making any more films. Farhadi has spoken up for
Panahi, putting himself in the line of fire from hardliners in the Iranian government.

But Farhadi 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.

(Writing by Chris Michaud and Ron Grover; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Sandra Maler)