'A Separation' director Asghar Farhadi (C) 390 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
Bloggers and Facebook pundits conceded on Monday that having Joseph Cedar’s
Footnote lose the Oscar to Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation in the
Best Foreign Language Film category at Sunday night’s Academy Awards ceremony
was preferable to ending up on the short end of the current heated nuclear war
of words and actions between the two countries.
And they were not the
only ones to connect the Israeli- Iranian tensions to the film contest. Iranian
state TV termed the results a victory over Israel “leaving behind” a film from
the “Zionist regime.”
And Javad Shamaghdari, head of Iran’s Cinematic
Agency, portrayed the Academy’s decision as the “beginning of the collapse” of
Israeli influence that “beats the drum of war” in the US, according to wire
Farhadi himself attempted to step away from the huffy
rhetoric during his acceptance speech at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, saying
that Iran is “spoken [about] here through her glorious culture, a rich and
ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of
“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, apparently
unaware of the statements being made back in Tehran.
film-going public has been curious about A Separation since it opened at select
theaters earlier this month, with sold-out screenings and tallies of over 30,000
viewers thus far.
Cedar, who lost out on his second Oscar after his 2008
nominee Beaufort also fell by the wayside, had no public comment following the
ceremony, and is on his way back to Israel. The results marked the fourth time
in five years that an Israeli film has been nominated in the Best Foreign
Language Film category without winning.
Other entries vying for the prize
this year included In Darkness, by Poland’s Agnieszka Holland, Bullhead by
Belgium’s Michael Roskam, and Monsieur Lazhar by Canada’s Philippe
A few miles away from the Kodak Theater, some 200 Israelis
gathered at a hotel to watch the awards at an event sponsored by the Israeli
Consulate in Los Angeles and the Israel Leadership Council. While A Separation
had been the favorite coming into the competition, there were still audible
groans when the winner was announced, according to a report in The Jewish
David Siegel, Consul-General of Israel in Los Angeles, noted
that Israeli movies and television programs were showing the world that “Israel
is not just about conflict but has become a fountainhead of creative talent,”
The Jewish Journal reported.
“We’re now ‘the people of the book,’ and of
the film,” Siegel said.
Eli Teme, co-chair of the Israel Leadership
Council, expressed the hope that Iran, having been recognized by the West for
its cultural achievement, might moderate its political rhetoric.
that remains to be seen, the consensus among film buffs and social media mavens
is that the best film won, and that no political message should be gleaned from
“Footnote was good, but the last 20 minutes dragged,” posted
one local bleary-eyed Oscar viewer on Facebook. “A Separation was
perfect. That’s why it won. Period.”