Iran's 'A Separation' Beats Israel's 'Footnote' in Oscars 2012; Israeli Media Bitter and Heartbroken

on February 27 2012 1:00 AM
"A Separation"
Best foreign language film was won by Asghar Farhadi's film "A Separation". Cast members Leyla Hatami (L) and Payman Moadi, stars of Iranian "A Separation", pose as they arrive at a reception honoring the 84th annual Academy Awards Foreign Language Film nominees at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences headquarters in Beverly Hills, California, February 24, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

A Separation by Asghar Farhadi became the first Iranian film to win the Academy Award for the best foreign language film. 

Widely hailed as a wonderfully crafted and engaging family drama revolving around the life of a middle class Iranian family, Farhadi's movie had been a popular choice among the five contenders.

The movies which competed for the Academy Awards in the best foreign language film category were Bullhead by Belgium's Michael Roskam, Footnote by Israel's Joseph Cedar, In Darkness by Poland's Agnieszka Holland, Monsieur Lazhar by Canada's Philippe Falardeau and A Separation by Iran's Asghar Farhadi.

Israeli media, especially Jewish publications, didn't digest the news well with many of them publishing articles about Iran's Oscar moment with sarcastic and bitter undertones.

Jewish Press, a predominant Israeli- Jewish publication, didn't try to tone down the bitterness.

You say we're sour losers? You bet your poopik we are, Jewish Press wrote.

Gold statue in hand, Farhadi dedicated the award to Iranians 'who despise hostility and resentment,' and referred to current tension between Tehran and the West, as the film bested movies from Belgium, Poland, Canada, and, how sweet - Israel, the editorial said.

Footnote director Cedar, as the Jewish Press claims, is an observant Jew. During a pre-Oscars symposium organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Cedar refused to use a hand-held microphone due to Jewish Sabbath and opted for a mike fastened to the armrest of his chair. He was apparently following the advice from a rabbi who said he was permitted to use a microphone as long as he didn't hold it in his hands. Cedar walked two miles from his hotel to the theater for religious reasons.

In an attempt to put the blame on Hollywood, though the U.S. by far remains Israel's most important and loyal ally, Jewish Press wrote: Let's face it; Israel just can't bring home the golden boychik. I blame the Jews of Hollywood, whose notion of bon ton always skips the Israeli candidate.

For crying out loud, we thought for sure 'Waltz with Bashir,' Ari Folman's 2008 animated nominee, with its warrior's angst and perplexing memories of bloodshed and mayhem, would capture that segment of Hollywood that wants to put Israel in its place. Nada. Even 'Ajami,' the 2009 nominee by Palestinian Scandar Copti and Jewish Yaron Shani, about an Arab neighborhood in Jaffa - didn't win, the article said.

Due to Iranian president Ahmadinejad's policy to avoid contact with Israelis altogether, Cedar and Farhadi shared certain moments of awkwardness during the pre-Oscars symposium.

The seating arrangement of the directors -in the alphabetical order of their respective film titles -- inadvertently made sure that Cedar and Farhadi wouldn't have to speak to each other.

During the two-hour-long discussion, both directors didn't exchange conversation. However, they were seen politely applauding at each other's remarks, along with others.

Israeli media do make it sound like Israel has been constantly losing the Oscars while Iran has kept winning. But the only earlier instance of an Iranian movie winning a nomination was in 1997 for Children of Heaven directed by Majid Majidi. The movie lost to Life is Beautiful from Italy.

Farhadi's acclaimed work, A Separation won the best foreign film at the Golden Globes. He was also nominated for best screenplay Oscar.

More News from IBT MEDIA