A Victory for Iran at the Oscars

Sunday night, the 84th Academy Awards presented an Oscar to the Iranian film "A Separation" for the best foreign language film. This is the first time an Iranian film has won such a prestigious award. In 1997, another Iranian film, "Children of Heaven", was nominated among the five foreign films, but did not win the honor.

Written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, "A Separation" deals with internal problems faced by a couple who are going through a divorce with much emphasis on the current tradition-modernity interaction in Iran. The film was also nominated for best screenplay, but did not win in that category.

Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the movie industry in Iran has advanced substantially and received much attention both inside and outside of the country. A good number of Iranian films have received prizes in different renowned international film festivals. "A Separation" won prestigious awards such as a Berlin film festival award and the Golden Globe before winning the Oscar.

Today, the name of Iran is being mentioned in international media mainly in issues related to politics and oil. Iranophobia is injected powerfully into societies--particularly in the Western world--making the image of the country negative and tainted. Foreign tourists visiting Iran for the first time can easily compare their feelings before going to the country and after experiencing Iranian attractions and the hospitality of its people. One-sided and negative stories about Iran--particularly on its peaceful nuclear activities--are widespread in the West presenting a picture of Iran as a country filled with chaos and anger bent on destroying the whole world with nuclear weapons.

"A Separation" is an attempt to show the whole world that despite tremendous sanctions and economic problems as well as a powerful misinformation campaign against it, Iran can present a soft view of itself through its rich culture. This issue was eloquently mentioned by Asghar Farhadi after receiving the Oscar, "At a time of talk of war, intimidation and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics."

Iran is a peace-loving nation and Iranians are well-known for their respect of all cultures. Contemporary Iran has never waged a war upon its neighbors while it has been the victim of aggression. Iranians are against the imposition of their will on others and have proved to be steadfast in rejecting any form of domination and aggression.

Dialogue is the best vehicle to overcome problems and misunderstandings. The language of threats and intimidation will complicate the situation making it more difficult to tackle existing problems. Cultural exchanges and dialogue among religions and civilizations, rather than promoting hatred and exclusion, can bring about more peace and tranquility for the entire world.

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