NNarrative Feature Competition
A SeparationOriginal Title: Jodaeiye Nader az Simin
Director: Asghar Farhadi
Iran | Farsi
Subtitles: Arabic and English
Poignant, absorbing and thought-provoking from start to finish, this remarkable new Iranian film is richly deserving of the worldwide acclaim it has received since it swept all the major prizes at the Berlin International Film Festival, where it had its world premiere in February. A Separation
begins when Nader (Peyman Moadi) and Simin (Leila Hatami), a middle-class couple, file for an amicable divorce. She wants to move abroad, and takes their adolescent daughter, Termeh (Sarina Farhadi, the director's daughter), with her in the belief that Iran today is no place to raise a female child. Her husband, whom she describes as "a good man," is unwilling to leave because his Alzheimer's-ravaged father needs constant care. It's the search for a caregiver that brings Nader and Simin into contact with another couple, Razieh (Sareh Bayat) and Hodjat (Shahab Hosseini), who are struggling to keep their heads above water financially.
For more than two hours (it feels like far less) we are riveted by the developing conflicts of a story in which our sympathies shift from one character to the next, and where each in turn merits our empathy and compassion. "The most terrible thing in life is that everyone has his reasons" is a celebrated remark made by a character played by the great French filmmaker Jean Renoir in his 1939 masterpiece, The Rules of the Game
. To think of A Separation
in that company is the highest praise I can think of. This latest work by Asghar Farhadi, whose About Elly screened at this festival in 2009, confirms his gift – rare among contemporary Iranian filmmakers – for making films that can be shown without domestic interference, despite their unflinching examination of some of the widening rifts in Iranian society.