Controversy has broken out in Iran over an interview given by Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi to an Israeli journalist.
Farhadi has won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film twice, in 2012 for A Separation and in late February for The Salesman. He spoke with Haaretz’s Uri Klein last May at the Cannes Film Festival, but the interview was only published on Monday.
Klein opens his article with a description of Farhadi’s Oscar statement — read in his absence bby Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian in space, and Firouz Naderi, the director of Solar Systems Exploration at NASA — which criticizes the “inhumane law” of the Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban”.
In the interview, primarily about art and character, Farhadi is careful in his approach to politics:
I think in “A Separation”, someone dealing with the issue of caring for their elderly parent would see the film in a certain way; someone who’s taken in a couple’s relationship would focus on that; somebody else who is into political activity and not personal matters would see that aspect….
We all wish for change – or the more idealist among us want change. But sometimes, by changing, or by wanting change, we destroy what really exists. We want to give the world the shape we wish it had. But the world belongs to all kinds of people, and some others may want the world either how it is or how they want it to be. We cannot change the world according to our will, so we’d better change ourselves.
Still, the very act of speaking with a journalist from Israel — which the Islamic Republic does not recognize, calling it “the Zionist regime” — has sparked criticism in Iran.
The public relations office behind Farhadi’s The Salesman responded on Thursday with a statement distancing itself from the episode: “It is possible that the Israeli reporter did not introduce himself during the interview or, if he did so, the organizer failed to inform the distinguished Iranian filmmaker of the reporter’s identity.”
The statement may not be enough to curb the most provocative exchange in the interview:
KLEIN: One last question: Israel and Iran – how do we solve it?
FARHADI: The politicians don’t want to solve the problem because they have too much to lose. My only hope is in people, not the politicians.