Iran’s state television has described on Monday the country’s foreign film Oscar win as a victory over Israel. The Monday broadcast says the award won by “The Separation” succeeded in “leaving behind” a film from the “Zionist regime,” a reference to the country’s arch-foe Israel, the Associated Press reported. “A Separation,” a tale of domestic turmoil, competed in the Oscars’ foreign language category against the Israeli “Footnote,” about a rivalry between father-son Talmudic scholars.
Traditionally, Iranian officials are dismissive of international cultural ceremonies. Iran has a long tradition of cultural achievements in cinema, literature and the arts. But clampdowns by hard-liners in recent years have included artists and others, forcing some to flee the country or work underground. “At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to be very happy,” director Asghar Farhadi said while accepting the Oscar. “At a time of tug of war, intimidation and aggressions exchanged between politicians, the name of their county, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.” “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. Two nights before the Oscar ceremony, Israeli and Iranian artists came together in a show of peace, said Lior Ashkenazi, a star of the Israeli foreign language Oscar entry “Footnote.” “At the Academy event in hour of the foreign films, we sat, spoke and all the veils came off,” Ashkenazi told Israel’s Army Radio. “They are warm hearted people. We invited them to Tel Aviv and they invited us to Tehran.” Farhadi made the movie under Iranian censors who impose strictures on filmmakers in the name of Islamic morality and national morale. But he has said he was not confronted with censorship. Award-winning Iranian director Jafar Panahi was sentenced to jail in 2010 and banned from making any more films. Farhadi has spoken up for Panahi, putting himself in the line of fire from hardliners in the Iranian government. But Farhadi has also criticized fellow Iranians who emphasize state censorship in order to promote their movies abroad, saying they are as morally culpable as the government officials who censor them.