By Seyyed Mostafa Mousavi Sabet

Iran sends “No Date” to Oscars despite calls for Academy Awards boycott

September 15, 2018

TEHRAN – Iran has submitted the acclaimed drama “No Date, No Signature” to the 91st Academy Awards in the best foreign language film category despite calls for the Farabi Cinema Foundation to boycott the prestigious cinematic competition over Washington’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Directed and written by Vahid Jalilvand, the movie is about Dr. Nariman, a forensic pathologist who has a car accident with a motorcyclist and injures his 8-year-old son. He offers to take the child to a clinic nearby, but the father refuses his help and money. The next morning, in the hospital where he works, Dr. Nariman finds out that the little boy has been brought for an autopsy after a suspicious death.

The film won Jalilvand the best director award and its star Navid Mohammadzadeh was selected as best actor in the Orizzonti section of the 74th Venice International Film Festival in September 2017.

In a statement published Friday evening, the Farabi Foundation, the organization that selects Iran’s submissions to the Oscars every year, said, “The Academy is a non-governmental institution and belongs to American cineastes.”

“In addition to the American cineastes, the Academy also enjoys filmmakers from Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, as well as groups of honorable Iranian filmmakers. American cinema, in particular the Academy members, in their attitude of mind, alongside the absolute majority of the U.S. press and media, are the main centers for opposition, criticism and divergence against Trump’s populism and his racist and despotic policies.”          

“Iranian cinema as part of the general diplomacy of the country, can use the Oscar competition as an opportunity to reinforce its ties with other nations, to influence public opinion in the world and, as a result, to increase the global pressure on the U.S. government.”

Iranian cinema, boycott on Oscars

Iran has a history of boycotting the Academy Awards to express its opposition to U.S. policies in various periods.

In January 2017, Taraneh Alidoosti, the star of Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-nominated drama “The Salesman”, said that she would boycott the Oscars ceremony in protest of President Donald Trump’s proposed ban on visas to citizens from seven countries, including Iran.

The popular actor’s decision to boycott the Oscars created a wider public expectation that Farhadi should do the same.        

A few days later, Farhadi who once had won an Oscar for the best foreign-language film category for his “A Separation” in 2011 announced that he would not attend the Oscars ceremony. However, he did not specifically call his decision a boycott against Trump’s visa ban.

“I neither had the intention to not attend nor did I want to boycott the event as a show of objection, for I know that many in the American film industry and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are opposed to the fanaticism and extremism, which are today taking place more than ever,” he wrote in a statement.

“It now seems that the possibility of this presence is being accompanied by ifs and buts that are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip,” he added.

“The Salesman” won the Oscar for best foreign-language film at the 89th Academy Awards while Iranian-American engineer Anousheh Ansari, who was the first female space tourist, and Firouz Naderi, a former director of NASA’s Solar System Exploration program, represented Farhadi at the Oscars ceremony.

“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.,” Ansari read from a statement from Farhadi at the podium.

In 2012 Iran selected Reza Mirkarimi’s drama “A Cube of Sugar” to represent Iran at the 2013 Oscars. However, the film missed the race after the then culture minister decided to boycott the Academy Awards over the amateur American-made video “Innocence of Muslims”, which was released on the Internet at that time.

“I officially announce that we will avoid next year's Oscars as a serious response to the intolerable insult to the Prophet of Islam (S),” Hosseini said at the time and added, “Since the insulting film has been made by an American in the United States and no comment has been made about the film by the officials of the Academy Awards, we have decided to boycott the event.”
He also asked all Islamic countries to join Iran in snubbing the 2013 Oscars. 

Photo: Navid Mohammadzadeh (L) and Zakieh Behbahani act in a scene from “No Date, No Signature”. (Photo by Amir-Hossein Shojaei)


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