By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi: "I proudly offer this award to the people of my country."
When Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's "A Separation" won the Oscar for best foreign-language film at the Academy Awards on February 26, he said the following in his acceptance speech, according to Iran’s hard-line Fars news agency:
"I proudly offer this award to the people of my country who, despite all the tensions and hostility of recent months between Iran and the West over Iran’s nuclear program, respect all cultures and civilizations."
cartoon by Mana Neyestani
In fact, Farhadi never mentioned Iran’s nuclear program in his speech. This is what he actually said:
“At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us, and I imagine them to be very happy. They are happy not just because of an important award, or a film, or a filmmaker, but because -- at a time of tug of war, intimidation and aggressions exchanged between politicians -- the name of their county, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.
"I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, the people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment. Thank you so much."
Fars news agency, which is said to be affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), was apparently not happy with Farhadi’s eloquent speech, which rose above politics. So the news agency -- which some Iranians refer to as “False News” -- added its own nuclear flavor to the speech.
But after a backlash on social-media sites, Fars replaced the story with a different version that did not include a reference to the country's nuclear program.
Quick-thinking bloggers, however, saved a screenshot of the original story:
Fars version of Farhadi's speech
The fabrication by Fars was in keeping with the pro-nuclear, anti-Western position of the Iranian establishment, which claims that its nuclear program is the most important issue for the Iranian people.
But Farhadi, for one, didn't use his brief moment in the global spotlight - an estimated 1.2 billion people watch the annual awards show on television -- to back that claim up.
And at a press conference after the awards ceremony, when he was asked about the tension between Iran and the United States, he again said that his work occupies a realm outside of politics.
“What you refer to is what is happening between the governments and I don’t have any message for the governments, because I believe that this film is communicating with the people," he said. "I don’t think that politicians are really into cinema [or] understand its message."
Copyright (c) 2012 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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