Originally published by Ajam Media Collective on January 16, 2012.
Last night at the Golden Globe Awards, Iran’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film, “A Separation (Jodaeiye Nader az Simin)” took home the coveted prize. The film has been generating buzz ever since its premiere at the Berlin Film Festival last February, and last night’s win positions the film for a successful showing at the Oscars later this year. Director Asghar Farhadi accepted the award and his speech was touching (if heavily-accented) to say the least: he talked not only about his family and friends and the film’s actors and crew members, but also about Iranians being a “peace-loving people.”
The film carries forward the tradition of two decades of strong cinema emerging from Iran, a wave that has garnered critical acclaim worldwide and positioned Iranian cinema as a global heavyweight. With this film, Director Farhadi situates himself as next in the line of great Iranian directors, following in the footsteps of Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi, Rakhshan Bani-E’temad and many others.
“A Separation” is not to be missed: it chronicles the disintegrating marriage of middle-class Tehran couple Nader (played by Peyman Moaadi) and Simin (the always amazing Leila Hatami) and takes several turns as Nader finds himself accused of murder. Meanwhile, several disturbing facts about the couple’s housekeeper, Razieh, and her violent miscarriage (perhaps at the hands of Nader) emerge to complicate the narrative.
What makes “A Separation” such an important film is not only its brilliant character development and its suspenseful, mind-bending plot twists and turns, but also the many angles it employs to explore issues of justice, gender, ethics, and religion in contemporary Iran. We see clearly how the legal system deals with divorcing couples and the heartbreaking (and unresolved) decisions that can tear families apart. Additionally, the film offers an intriguing perspective on how class operates in Iran with its exploration of the relationship between a comfortable middle-class family and a domestic worker in the context of a major legal dispute.
Particularly at this moment in history, where black-and-white narratives of Iran and its justice system are routinely painted in the global media, this film offers a refreshingly more complex view at the intricacy of law and order in the Islamic Republic. While it is currently only on limited release in the United States, we’re hoping it will soon be more widely available. Check out the trailer below: