- Published on Friday, 10 February 2012 18:18
Iran is a country with around 75 million people. However, the Islamic Republic has a number of religious minorities, including Christians, Jews and Zoarastrians. One minority, numbering around 300,000, has been singled out and persecuted at great length since the 1979 revolution.
The Baha'i faith, founded in Iran in the 19th century, is an offshoot of Shia Islam, but has been targeted by the government. Islamic officials including Ayatollah Khomenei have sanctioned that persecution. Among the laws against the Baha'i is one that bars them from receiving any form of higher education.
Co-sponsored by Amnesty International, Jeff Kaufman's new documentary, Education Under Fire, explores the Baha'i plight and the efforts of activists to bypass the education ban. In the 1980s, Baha'i citizens formed the Baha'i Institute of Higher Education, a loose collection of students and teachers that provided college-level classes to members of the faith.
- Published on Saturday, 21 January 2012 06:02
On Sunday, January 15, at the 69th Golden Globes, “A Separation” by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won the award for Best Foreign Language Film. Already a winner in various international film festivals including the Berlin Film Festival, Asia Pacific Screen Awards, and New York Film Critics Circle, the film’s success at the Golden Globes did not necessarily come as a surprise to either its Western or Iranian audiences alike.
Not surprisingly, the film comes with its own baggage of criticisms, oppositions, and accusations. Internationally, conservative Iranian figures and filmmakers called Farhadi’s work an unrealistic image of the Iranian people and devalued the Golden Globes as yet another “Western plot against Islamic culture.” Amongst Iran’s people, the reaction could not be more different. Since the film’s win, celebrations have been taking place on social media websites and inside Iran through various messages and letters written by prominent public figures, including filmmakers and former President Mohammad Khatami. The reaction many Iranians had to the winning of the A Separation is not one of mere happiness or pride, but rather ecstaticism with a ting of anxiety.
Here are five reasons why Iranians cried for A Separation:
1-The film was made by Asghar Farhadi, Not Abbas Kiarostami
Asghar Farhadi is from a suburban, small town called Khomeinishahr, located northwest of Isfahan and known for its conservative, religious, lower to middle class residents. From here, Farhadi found his way to the Iranian capital and studied in two of the country’s most prestigious universities.
- Published on Wednesday, 04 January 2012 00:00
In the ever-growing canon of Iranian filmmaking, one name unmistakably stands out: Abbas Kiarostami. Since staking out his reputation as an internationally acclaimed director and screenwriter, his films, though deceptively simple in structure, have become famous for taking on complex issues: the legitimacy of suicide in Taste of Cherry; gender equality in The Wind Will Carry Us; Iran’s socio-political landscape as seen through the eyes of one woman in Ten; and most recently, relationship drama Certified Copy, his second film shot and produced outside of Iran.
Among Kiarostami’s entourage of critics and supporters, only a minority have garnered more acclaim than Geoff Andrew, who takes his expertise on the filmmaker a step further. While other film scholars just simply respect Kiarostami’s work from an academic distance, Andrew is one of the few people who brought his admiration for the filmmaker under a more analytical and speculative lens, which has played a significant role in introducing Kiarostami to the western audience. Andrew’s 2005 book, 10, looks at Kiarostami’s challenging 2002 film of the same name, carefully weaving his commentary on the film’s political and aesthetic relevance with the broader contexts of Kiarostami’s career and Iran’s international film culture.
Film scholar and Aslan Media Contributor Ehsan Khoshbakht sat down with Andrew in London’s National Film Theatre to talk about Kiarostami’s use of craft and narrative, as well as the future challenges he faces making films abroad as a result of censorship in Iran.
- Published on Thursday, 01 December 2011 05:36
With Norway still recovering from the devastating terrorist attack by Christian fundamentalist Anders Behring Breivik last July, a new Norwegian television series called Taxi claims to challenge the established prejudices surrounding how ethnic minorities and “native” Norwegians interact.
Unfortunately, anyone who expected that to actually be the premise of the show would have found it disappointing at best and, at worst, detrimental to any further dialogue and understanding.
- Published on Friday, 14 October 2011 08:08
Recently, special screening of Iran’s official entry to the American Academy Awards was shown at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center. The film, “A Separation,” is an emotionally riveting drama produced, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi. It will premiere in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on December 30.
Set in contemporary Iran and shown in Farsi with English subtitles, the movie is about a woman named Simin who wants to take her husband Nader and their daughter, Termeh, to live abroad. She feels that Iran is not a place for her studious, 11-year-old to grow up. But Simin’s father-in-law is suffering from Alzheimer’s and Nader does not want to leave him behind.
Simin sues for divorce and is denied. Hurt that her husband does not want to leave with her, she goes to live with her parents. Termeh stays with Nader and her ailing grandfather. Nader hires a young woman to help with his father and take care of the house in his wife’s absence. However, she has some secrets of her own.
The rest of the movie is filled with suspenseful yet clever plot twists that keep you guessing. But the raw, human emotion portrayed so perfectly by these actors is what makes the film so delightful to watch.