Iran Government Forbids Ceremony Honoring Oscar Winner

Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi

When the Iranian film A Separation won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars, Iranian government media celebrated the win as a victory over Israel, which had a film nominated in the same category. Now, however, the hardliners who exercise control seem to have returned to their standard posture in opposition to Iran’s internationally-celebrated film industry.

According to RFE/RL’s Golnaz Esfandiari, a semi-official Iranian news service reported that a ceremony celebrating Asghar Farhadi’s win for A Separation was cancelled when authorities denied organizers a permit. The Center for Directors of Iranian Cinema and the High Council of Producers of Iranian Cinema planned to put on the event, and the directors group expressed regret in a statement that the ceremony was blocked:

Dear Asghar Farhadi, We intended to have a simple and friendly meeting to say ‘Thank you’ for the great achievement you brought Iran and Iranian cinema ahead of the [Iranian] New Year but the cultural custodians did not let us realize this. We’re sorry. Alas.

After delivering a speech that garnered wide attention at the Oscars, Farhadi returned to Iran, which he reportedly said he had no intention of moving away from.

The Oscar ceremony came in the same month that the Culture Ministry ordered the House of Cinema — an umbrella association of Iran’s film industry — to close its doors. The House of Cinema is a vaunted institution internationally and in Iran, whose films seemingly accrue ever-more-bountiful acclaim with each new release — even as the government strictly censors the industry.

Farhadi reportedly requested that the government reopen the House of Cinema. “That would make me happy more than anything else,” he said.