Wyndham Hacket Pain discusses this week’s film pick
Iran seems to be a forgotten voice within myriad countries which make up world cinema. Iran has played a long and notable part within the story of film and truly came to the fore of innovative and creative cinema in the 1990s, with what has come to be known as the Iranian New Wave. Filmmakers such as Samira Makhmalbaf, Abbas Kiarostami and Mohsen Makhmanlbaf, pushed narrative boundaries and represented the true state of Iran. For Iranian cinema though, international recognition has long been hard to find.
Yet in 2011 the film A Separation burst into cinemas across the world. The Best Foreign Language Film Oscar is testament to this. For possibly the first time in Iran’s long history in film it had reached the international consciousness. If A Separation shows anything, it is that Iran is more than just a piece of Western foreign policy, but instead an active and working place where people carry out their everyday lives.
The mastery of A Separation is how it blends what could be an American melodrama, with a distinctly Iranian way of life. Many films have been made about the breakup of a married couple, but A Separation mixes it with politics, religion and social tensions, to create a film of tremendous tenderness and clarity.
With director Asghar Farhadi, who moved to France to direct and produce his follow-up film, The Past, the unique perspectives and voices of Iranian cinema should not be lost and should not be overlooked. Time and again, Iran is shown through a Western lens of conflict and self-interest. A Separation shows a complexity to a country whose issues are so often simplified. Farhadi represents gender and ethnicity in ways which are much more nuanced than most films in the English language. Just because the film came from Iran, it does not mean it is not progressive and modern in its outlook. The film is not important because it represents Iran, but instead because it represents Iran with the compassion and complexities that are often overlooked.
Featured Image Credit: still from A Separation, by Asghar Farhadi