Asghar Farhadi

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Asghar Farhadi
Asghar Farhadi Cannes 2013.jpg
Born (1972-05-07) 7 May 1972 (age 46)[1]
Khomeyni Shahr, Isfahan Province, Iran
Nationality Iranian
Alma mater Tarbiat Modares University
University of Tehran
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
  • film producer
Years active 1997–present
Notable work About Elly
A Separation
The Past
The Salesman
Parisa Bakhtavar
(m. 1990)
Children 2; including Sarina

Asghar Farhadi (Persian: اصغر فرهادی‎; Persian pronunciation: [æsɢæɾ fæɾhɑdiː] About this sound pronunciation  born 7 May 1972) is an Iranian film director and screenwriter. Among other awards, he has received two Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film for his films A Separation (2012) and The Salesman (2016), making him one of the few directors world-wide who have won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film twice, along with such noted directors as Akira Kurosawa and René Clément. In 2012, he was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.

Life and career[edit]

Farhadi was born in Khomeyni Shahr, a city located in the Isfahan province near the city of Isfahan. He is a graduate of theatre, with a BA in Dramatic Arts and MA in Stage Direction from University of Tehran and Tarbiat Modares University, respectively. Farhadi made short 8mm and 16mm films in the Isfahan branch of the Iranian Young Cinema Society, before moving on to writing plays and screenplays for IRIB. He also directed such TV series as A Tale of a City and co-wrote the screenplay for Ebrahim Hatamikia’s Low Heights. Dancing in the Dust was his feature film debut,[2] which he followed with A Beautiful City.

His third film, Fireworks Wednesday, won the Gold Hugo at the 2006 Chicago International Film Festival. His fourth film, About Elly, won him the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 59th International Berlin Film Festival and also Best Picture at the Tribeca Film Festival. The latter film is about a group of Iranians who take a trip to the Iranian beaches of Caspian Sea that turns tragic. Film theorist and critic David Bordwell has called About Elly a masterpiece.[3]

His film A Separation premiered on 9 February 2011 at the 29th Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran and received critical acclaim from the Iran Society of Film Critics. It won Farhadi four awards including Best Director (for the third time after Fireworks Wednesday and About Elly). On 15 February 2011, it also played in competition at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival, which earned him a Golden Bear for best film, becoming the first Iranian film to win that award. In June 2011, A Separation won the Sydney Film Prize in competition with Cannes Festival's winner The Tree of Life, directed by Terrence Malick.[4] It also won the Best Film award at the 2011 Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

On 19 December 2011, Farhadi was announced as being on the jury for the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival, held in February 2012.[5]

On 15 January 2012, A Separation won the Golden Globe for the Best Foreign Language Film.[6] The film was also the official Iranian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Academy Awards where, apart from getting nominated[7] in this category, it also received a nomination in the Best Original Screenplay category. On 26 February 2012, A Separation became the first Iranian movie to win an Oscar for the best foreign language film at the 84th edition of the Academy Awards. This marked Farhadi as the first Iranian to have won an Academy Award in any of the competitive categories.[8] He was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in June 2012 along with 175 other individuals.[9]A Separation also won the César Award for Best Foreign Film and the Independent Spirit Award for Best International Film that year.

His 2013 film The Past, starring Bérénice Bejo and Tahar Rahim, competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[10] Bejo won the Best Actress Award at Cannes for her performance in the film.[11][12] His 2016 film The Salesman, starring Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti, competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. The Salesman won two Awards: Best Actor for Shahab Hosseini and Best Screenplay for Farhadi.[13]

On 26 February 2017, he won his second Oscar for Best Foreign Film for The Salesman at the 89th Academy Awards. The Salesman had already won the award for the Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival. Following Donald Trump's executive order barring Iranians from entering the country, Farhadi said he would not attend the 2017 Academy Awards, despite being nominated, and then winning, for the best foreign-language film.[14] He then has announced two prominent Iranian Americans, Anousheh Ansari and Firouz Naderi to representing him in the ceremony. Anousheh Ansari is famed for being the first female space tourist and first Iranian in space, and Naderi as director of Solar Systems Exploration at NASA.[15] A few hours before the ceremony, he addressed a group of protesters in London via a video link from Iran. The city screened the movie as a celebration of the city's diversity. "This solidarity is off to a great start," he told them. "I hope this movement will continue and spread, for it has within itself the power to stand up to fascism, be victorious in the face of extremism and say no to oppressive political powers everywhere."[16]

After winning the Academy Awards for the second time, Farhadi did have a prepared statement of his read by Anousheh Ansari. "I'm sorry I'm not with you tonight," Farhadi's statement read. "My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of the other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S. Dividing the world into the us and our enemies categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which themselves have been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others -- an empathy that we need today more than ever." Prior to the ceremony, all five directors nominated for foreign language film issued a joint statement, obtained by USA Today, that condemned "the climate of fanaticism and nationalism" in the United States, among other countries. The directors - Farhadi, Maren Ade (Toni Erdmann), Hannes Holm (A Man Called Ove), Martin Zandvliet (Land of Mine) and Bentley Dean and Martin Butler (Tanna) - said that no matter which films wins, the Oscar is dedicated to "all the people, artists, journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understand, and who uphold freedom of expression and human dignity - values whose protection is now more important than ever."[17]


Social and class structures[edit]

Farhadi in a The Salesman's press conference. Taraneh Alidoosti in his left and Shahab Hosseini in right

Farhadi’s films present a microcosm of modern Iran and the inevitable complications that arise, especially when interactions cross class and gender differences. For example, his film A Separation represents such conflicts and arguments that leave the characters unable to solve their problems and even unsure about the moral grounds of their own decisions.

In her critical article, “Through the Looking Glass: Reflexive Cinema and Society in Post-Revolution Iran,” Norma Claire Moruzzi writes:

In contrast, Farhadi’s A Separation treats the life-as-elsewhere dream as one strand of a complex and multi-layered story. Farhadi’s films are nuanced portraits of the cross-cutting relations among classes, genders, and social groups. They are ambivalent explorations of the implications small personal choices can have on the delicate web of individual connections that make up any social network, carefully crafted and beautifully acted.[18]

The film critic Roger Ebert in his Movie Yearbook 2013 writes this about Farhadi's craft depicting social relations:

"The writer-director, Asghar Farhadi, tells his story with a fair and even hand. His only agenda seems to be to express empathy. A Separation provides a useful portrait of Iran today . . . [T]his film portrays a more nuanced nation, and its decent characters are trying to do the right thing" (532). "The intriguing thing about his screenplay is that it gets us deeply involved, yet never tells us who it thinks is right or wrong" (703).[19]

In the introduction to her 2014 book Asghar Farhadi: Life and Cinema, film critic Tina Hassannia writes:[20]

[Farhadi’s] social realism—observations on the culture at large driven through a documentary-like lens—is skilfully effaced by a highly refined version of the melodrama. Yet his social commentary—though bleak, sometimes damning—never feels didactic or punishing.

In Farhadi’s films such as in A Separation, we see that Iran is far from a classless society and its class system endures across the history of pre- and post-revolutionary Iran. Farhadi presents the complexities of everyday life in Iran today, especially in light of the diversity that crosses social structures such as class and gender.


Feature films[edit]

Year Film Credited as Notes
Director Producer Writer
2002 Low Heights No No Yes Co-written with Ebrahim Hatamikia
2003 Dancing in the Dust Yes No Yes Co-written with Alireza Bazrafshan and Mohammad Reza Fazeli
2004 The Beautiful City Yes No Yes
2006 Fireworks Wednesday Yes No Yes Co-written with Mani Haghighi
2007 Canaan No No Yes Co-written with Mani Haghighi
2008 Tambourine No No Yes
2009 Trial on the Street No No Yes Co-written with Masoud Kimiai
2009 About Elly Yes Yes Yes
2011 A Separation Yes Yes Yes A Separation won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, becoming the first Iranian film to win the award. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
2013 The Past Yes No Yes
2016 The Salesman Yes Yes Yes The Salesman won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2017. However, Farhadi did not attend the 89th Academy Awards ceremony in protest of the U.S. Executive Order 13769.
2018 Everybody Knows Yes Yes Yes Starring Penélope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Ricardo Darín.


Year Film Credited as Notes
Director Producer Writer
1998 The Waiter Yes Yes Yes Broadcast on IRIB TV5
1998 Doctors No No Yes Broadcast on IRIB TV3
1998 Farrokh & Faraj Residental Complex Yes No No Broadcast on IRIB TV2
1999 Youth days No No Yes Broadcast on IRIB TV5
1999 Story of a City Yes Yes Yes Broadcast on IRIB TV5
2001 Story of a City II Yes Yes Yes Broadcast on IRIB TV5


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Soureh Movie Database Archived 21 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "NESHANE". 
  3. ^ "A masterpiece, and others not to be neglected". Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. 
  4. ^ "2011 SFF Official Competition winner is..." News. Sydney Film Festival. 19 June 2011. Retrieved 5 July 2011. 
  5. ^ "Berlinale 2012: International Jury". 19 December 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-21. 
  6. ^ "Golden Globes: 'A Separation' wins best foreign language film". 15 January 2012. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  7. ^ ""A Separation" nominated for foreign-language film Oscar". Tehran Times. 25 January 2012. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. 
  8. ^ Ronald Grover. "Iran wins first Oscar with "A Separation". Reuters. Retrieved 27 February 2012. 
  9. ^ "Academy Invites 176 to Membership". The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  10. ^ "2013 Official Selection". Cannes. 18 April 2013. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  11. ^ "Cannes Film Festival: Awards 2013". Cannes. 26 May 2013. Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  12. ^ Chang, Justin (26 May 2013). "Cannes: 'Blue Is the Warmest Color' Wins Palme d' Or". Variety. Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  13. ^ "Festival de Cannes 2016". 
  14. ^ Donadio, Rachel; Erdbrink, Thomas (29 January 2017). "Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi Won't Attend Oscar Ceremony". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  15. ^ "Iranian director to send famous proxies to Oscars in his place". 24 February 2017. 
  16. ^ "An Iranian director protesting Trump's travel ban sent a space traveller to pick up his award". 26 February 2017. 
  17. ^ "The Salesman Director Delivers Powerful Statement Against Trump (While Boycotting the Ceremony)". 27 February 2017. 
  18. ^ Moruzzi, Norma Claire. “Through the Looking Glass: Reflexive Cinema and Society in Post-Revolution Iran”. From Iranian Cinema in a Global Context: Policy, Politics, and Form By Peter Decherney, Blake Atwood. Routledge. NY: 2015. 112-142
  19. ^ Ebert, Roger. Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook 2013 (25th Anniversary ed.). 
  20. ^ Tina Hassannia (2014). Asghar Farhadi: Life and Cinema. Critical Press. 
  21. ^ "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers". Foreign Policy. 26 November 2012. Archived from the original on 28 November 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  22. ^ "Cannes: 'Blue Is the Warmest Color' Wins Fipresci Prize". Variety. 26 May 2013. Retrieved 26 May 2013. 
  23. ^

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