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'A Separation' has a powerful effect on L.A. Iranians

Asghar Farhadi's work, vying for Academy Awards for original screenplay and foreign film, raises dueling perspectives among expatriates.

February 26, 2012|By Robert Faturechi, Los Angeles Times

The dueling perspectives on the film, within the same tightknit Los Angeles community, might have been exactly what the film's creator was striving for. "I don't think it's important for the audience to know my intention," Farhadi has said. "I'd rather they left the cinema with questions.... From the opening scene, I aimed to set this up. The film's first question is whether an Iranian child has a better future in his or her own country or abroad. There is no set answer."

Either way, the film has proved extremely successful with the local expat community. As with many of the Iranian films distributed here, moviegoers have left theaters in tears — sometimes just because of the nostalgia for home the images evoke among those who never expected to raise their children abroad.

"A Separation" is nominated in two Oscar categories: original screenplay, by Farhadi, and foreign film.

Farhadi is one of several Iranian filmmakers, along with directors such as Abbas Kiarostami and Majid Majidi, to gain prominence in recent years. Though Iranian cinema can be slow-moving and draining, it has developed an enthusiastic audience in the U.S. and abroad. The only other Iranian work ever nominated for best foreign film — 1997's "Children of Heaven," about two young siblings sharing one pair of shoes — was edged out by Italy's "Life Is Beautiful."

Khalili said the Golden Globe awarded to "A Separation" last month has many here optimistic that an Iranian filmmaker might be taking home Oscar gold for the very first time.

"If it wins," Khalili said, "we think we win."

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