Iranian director Asghar Farhadi accepted the best foreign language film award for A Separation at the 2012 Academy Awards Sunday, winning Iran's first Oscar amidst an era of heightened tensions surrounding the Middle Eastern nation.
At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us, and I imagine them to be very happy, said Farhadi during his acceptance speech.
They are happy not just because of an important award, or a film, or a filmmaker, but because, at the time when talk of war, intimidation and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country, Iran, has been spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.
Farhadi was making a clear but not overtly political reference to the hawkish rhetoric that has been directed at his country by the over its nuclear energy program, which some American politicians suspect of being a clandestine weapons operation.
Talk of sanctions, air strikes and regime change has echoed in the halls of Congress and been bellowed out on campaign trails, but this is what Farhadi wanted to set aside that evening, in order to express his belief that the people of Iran should, above all, be seen as peace-loving.
I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, a people who respect all cultures and civilizations, and despise hostility and resentment, said Farhadi.
The tone of Farhadi's speech was a reflection of his film, a contemporary drama about an Iranian family's struggle to understand one another and their experience of life in modern Tehran. The story shies away from politics, instead focusing on the universal aspects of humanity, shaped by the unique, and often misunderstood, traditions of Iranian culture. It is not meant to shape political opinions, but rather to show the kind of people that Farhadi mentioned in his speech, a people who despite the burden of politics, are looking just as deeply as anyone else in the world to find happiness in life.
Watch Farhadi's acceptance speech below: