In a rare public statement, filmmaker Asghar Farhadi has strongly distanced himself from the government of Iran, which submitted his film A Hero (Ghahreman) for consideration at the Academy Awards this year. “If your introduction of my film for the Oscars has led you to the conclusion that I am in your debt, I am explicitly declaring now that I have no problem with you reversing this decision,” Farhadi said in an Instagram statement, translated by Vulture. In a lengthy Tuesday post, the director of the Oscar-winning films A Separation and The Salesman criticized the Iranian government for “the suffering it has caused over the years,” referencing protests, the shooting-down of a Ukrainian passenger plane, and discrimination against women and girls. He also lambasted the country’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic; Farhadi previously told The Hollywood Reporter the Iranian people would never forgive the country’s decision to ban vaccines imported from the U.S. and U.K.
His statement was made in response to a suggestion that his work is hypocritically both “pro- and anti- government.” Fahardi explained in his statement that throughout his career, he has opted to focus on his work rather than directly respond to “the government’s accusations and name calling.” He concluded his message by stating that A Hero will live on its merits,” whether in or outside Iran. Read a translation of his full statement below:
Over the years, I have tended to hold my tongue, choosing to focus on my writing and filmmaking. It was my understanding that my work would be the appropriate response to the government’s accusations and name calling, and that there was no need for further clarification. However, this silence has caused many to believe that they can say whatever they want about me, and to assume that I would not respond.
The reason I am writing this is because a person — who I do not know — has stated that I can be pro- and anti-government at the same time. Let me be clear: I am fed up.
How can anyone associate me with a government whose extremist media has spared no effort to destroy, marginalize, and stigmatize me in past years. A government to which I have made my views clear on the suffering it has caused over the years — from the events of January 2017 and November 2019, to the bitter and unforgivable tragedy that caused the murder of the Ukrainian plane passengers, from the cruel discrimination against women and girls to the way the country has allowed coronavirus to slaughter its people.
How could you call me pro-government when they have repeatedly confiscated my passport at the airport and have subjected me to many interrogation sessions? How could you say I support a government that has repeatedly stated: “Farhadi better not return to Iran”? I have never had the slightest affinity with your backward thinking, nor do I have the slightest need for your support and praise.
For many years, you have accused my movies of being “fake,” and now it is amazing to watch you do the opposite. If I have so far remained silent on the persecutions you have inflicted on me, it is only because I have wanted to concentrate on my work, which I deeply believe in. It was never meant to be taken as a sign that I agreed with you.
If your introduction of my film for the Oscars has led you to the conclusion that I am in your debt, I am explicitly declaring now that I have no problem with you reversing this decision. I no longer care about the fate of the film that I made with all my heart. Whether in or outside Iran, this movie will live on its merits.