#MuslimBan : A Look Back at an Iranian film

With the first week of the new U.S government came multiple dangerous executive orders, including the ban on entering U.S soil for 7 Oriental Muslim-predominant countries. And so, we learned that this included cultural events, barring Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi, for example, who was due at the 2017 edition of the Academy Awards. His new film The Salesman was recently nominated for the “Best Foreign Language Film” category. Looking back, we could comment on his previous film, A Separation: a piece written back a few months ago.

“” Presented at Cannes and almost every other festival around the world, A Separation won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2012. An Iranian film, it portrays the family life of Nader, a banker, Simin, his wife, who demands separation, and their daughter Termeh. The story revolves around this separation but mostly around a “court case”: Nader is accused of pushing the woman caring for his father down the stairs.

If there’s one element, which garners more attention, it is the portrayal of the characters; the film’s atmosphere is based on distress or tension. Each of the four have a want, a need and a dream in some ways. Simin wants to go to America while Nader wants to stay because of his loyalty to his father. Razed simply wants peace. What the spectator only understands is that it has to do with her husband, who, for his part, wants justice. It seems, at first glance, that this is sort of a vicious cycle. The judge, who takes car of the case, looks somewhat irritated with all the characters involved. The spectator understands that he is more irritated with Raziel’s husband but then again he has the same attitude with Nader. Farad, the screenwriter and direction, was able to portray the culture and the art of conversation known in Orient and the Middle East.

But not only. In this city life, whose presence is known exclusively by distant sounds and the cacophony of the cars and buses, there are still different families practicing different rituals of the same religion, characterized by social differences. The more liberal families the one is evidently the more prosperous and middle class of the two. The backgrounds, all sparse and simple, are evidently a sign of symbolic poverty, middle class riches, and, in the case of the hospital, of the school and the police station, expressionless. This last point is maybe to show these are public “State” places even more so than the streets, since they represent the State and regime.

In the end, it is more about the language and actions of each person than the backgrounds and places. The men are tense, the women try to makes stances of their own and the children are the lonely two, who can be considered observant. The four year old is not one’s usual observer but she is enough of one to understand that something is going on. Termed, at age eleven, understands subtleties, which her father refuses and then accepts to acknowledge but only to a certain extent. He is the father; he has the last say. The grandfather is an accessory, a symbol of a society past perhaps but only there to supply the storyline. He does have an important scene to himself, although the weight it brings to the main line is minimal. He is the reason why his son refuses to go to America and, in a ironic development, the reason why there is a court case. Besides that, there is no apparent importance to his person.

A final element quite extraordinary is the sound: the sounds of city life are vocal but all sounds other than those of ordinary life are absent. The spectator only hears music at the end, when Nader et Simin are waiting for Termeh in the corridor followed by the roll of the credits. All throughout the film, the only time we hear music is when we are in the living room, mixed in with the background. This does bring similarities with Entre les murs, a French 2006 film but mostly invites us to better glimpse into the story and the lives of those touched by this separation.””

A Separation is acclaimed for the portrayal of ordinary life in a State, where, since 1979, the islamist regime holds a tight reign on many aspects of social life, whether it be the different activities outside school and work or the deep-end elements of portraying Iranian and Persian culture. The severity of the politics of Iran is enormous, concerning the international community, the Middle East and religious Islamic differences (two branches of Islam) but is it right to place the blame on the citizens. We discussed the Christians of Orient last year, so our defense of them is no secret however, it does not mean we are against the rest when it comes to the matter of an extreme regional political, diplomatic and religious crisis.

The U.S. ban is being contested. Culture or other, we, in no matter which country, have a duty to welcome any and every person wishing for help or simply in need to travel. The risk is getting to close to the volcanic fire, already hot on the coals. Do we want it to burst? No. A Separation shows that we all have dreams and we all have needs. That said, we are all the same: humans and citizens of the international community.

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