Since the Iranian Revolution, Iranian cinema has produced a multitude of talented filmmakers. While the older generation, made up of legends like Abbas Kiarostami, passed their legacy on to younger filmmakers, the Iranians continued to produce films that defy all odds. Asghar Farhadi is one of the most prolific contemporary directors on the scene; He is currently one of the few directors who has won two Oscar for best international feature film for his films A seperation and The seller in the 2010s. Born near Isfahan, he studied drama at the University of Tehran and then completed his master’s degree in directing for theater.
In his third feature film Fireworks Wednesday, Farhadi began to attract national and international attention for his nuanced portrayal of Iranian society. This is what he would refine and delve deeper into in his later films. Farhadi’s films are recognized for criticizing the gender, politics, and socio-economic status of Iranians. He is a filmmaker who is rooted in his culture and who is quite proud of his country because of his statements and political actions, but still criticizes it. Perhaps this is the most beautiful love one can have for its origins – to portray it beautifully, with care and devotion, but to expose how flawed it is and, more importantly, how it can be improved. Here are the best Asghar Farhadi films, in order.
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6th Everyone knows
Everyone knows was Farhadi’s venture to shoot a film set in Spain and Spanish. Laura (Penelope Cruz) has returned to Madrid from Buenos Aires because her sister is getting married. Laura’s daughter is kidnapped during the reception, leading to ransom demands and threats that her daughter will be murdered if they go to the police. At the same time, Laura meets the love of her life again: a man named Paco (Javier Bardem). Everyone knows is a mystery story at its core, but it’s also a slow burn. The pace slowly creeps up at the beginning of the film, setting the scene and introducing the characters, but the acting in this film is flawless. The tension between dramatic and mysterious elements is pushed and pulled and turned into a lengthy question: who did this?
5 Fireworks Wednesday
Fireworks Wednesday was the film that put Farhadi on the map. In Farsi, the film’s title is named after the ritual of jumping over a fire to start over in the Persian New Year: chaharshanbe suri. A woman (Hedye Tehrani) believes her husband is unfaithful and asks a maid (Taraneh Alidoosti) to find out the truth before traveling to Dubai. Like the tradition after which the film is named, it is a film about the search for new beginnings and leaving the life that one has once behind for another. This was Farhadi’s first major film to gain international recognition.
4th About Elly
Golshifteh Farahani (in her last Iranian film before) to be in exile from Iran), Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti are the stars in Farhadis acclaimed About Elly. This film earned him the Silver Bear for best director at the Berlin Film Festival. Farahani plays Sepideh, a woman who travels through her social bubble with her husband, daughter and other middle-class Iranians. Sepideh asks her daughter’s teacher (Alidoosti) to accompany her on this trip to bring the teacher together with her divorced friend (Hosseini), but when her accommodation is changed it turns out to be a nightmarish journey. The beginning of the film is polite, somewhat familiar, but when the conflict is revealed the film twists and turns into a thriller.
3 The seller
The seller Farhadi won his second Oscar, but not without controversy – he was unable to attend the ceremony at the time for political reasons. Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti reunite as a married couple working in the theater; their current production is that of Arthur Miller Death of a salesman. After the collapse of their apartment building, they move into a new apartment in which the previous tenant, a woman, left all her belongings behind. This woman is said to be a prostitute, although this is unconfirmed. After Alidoosti’s character is attacked alone while showering, Hosseini stumbles between her to untangle her trauma and seek revenge.
2 A hero
A hero is the latest Aghar Farhadi film, which shortlisted it for the third time and won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. This film represents a departure from the previous tones that some of his other films had, but is still a Farhadi film. A man in jail for debt couldn’t find the money to pay him back, and now he has a legitimate plan to get himself out of this hole. But his plan is not going as expected, which results in a situation that draws so many people in with it. A hero looks at the gray area of what is moral and what is not and asks the audience what makes a heroic person. Movies like to clearly define who is bad and who is good, but Farhadi complicates and humanizes this simplistic way of seeing the world.
1 A seperation
Iranian national cinema has a penchant for realism, however A seperation takes this concept to a whole new level. A couple tries to get a divorce, while the daughter has to choose a parent to live with. At the same time, the man’s father suffers from Alzheimer’s and needs constant care, which leads to a completely new situation with the woman hired for him. The film has so many levels that raise questions about how society, relationships, and moral codes work in Iran today. A seperation became the first Iranian film to win the Oscar for Best International Feature Film, and helped bring Iranian culture and cinema to mainstream audiences.
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