Asghar Farhadi, Director
Asghar Farhadi was born in 1972. He made his first short film at age 13 in a youth cinema club and had made five short films before going to the University of Tehran in 1991 to study theater, a choice that would influence his filmmaking style significantly. He defended Harold Pinter’s work and the function of silence and pause in Pinter’s plays for his bachelor thesis. After he graduated, he continued his studies in stage direction at Tarbiat Modares University in 1996. Here he started writing radio plays, and then television series. After graduating with a masters in stage direction, he started work immediately directing television series he himself had written, A Tale of City (Dastane Yek Shahr) being a typical example.
In 2002, he wrote and directed his first feature film, Dancing in the Dust (Raghss Dar Ghobar). The film won awards for Best Actor at the 25th Moscow International Film Festival and the Russian Society of Film Critics’ Best Film award, and also won the Best Screenplay and Best Director awards at the 48th Asian Pacific Film Festival.
A year later, Asghar Farhadi made Beautiful City (Shahre Ziba), a social genre which was a rarity at the time. It describes the conflict between two families, one of a murderer sentenced to death, the other of his victim. The victim’s family holds the fate of the 18‐year‐old murderer in their hands since they can accept to have the death sentence revoked. The film was released in France in 2012 and attracted attention in local and international festivals, winning several awards, including the Grand Prix at the Warsaw International Film Festival.
Farhadi’s next film was Fireworks Wednesday (Chahar Shanbe Souri) in 2005, which shone an uncompromising light on the stressed lifestyle of a middle class family through the eyes of their maid and illustrated the double life of a family in society.
Two years later, Asghar Farhadi made About Elly (Darbareye Elly), a film about a close group of young friends who take a vacation in the north of Iran. When one of them goes missing, it puts the group in a complicated situation and sets in motion an exciting drama. The film was screened for the first time at the Berlin International Film Festival and Fajr Film Festival simultaneously. It won the Silver Bear for Best Director in Berlin and the Crystal Simorgh for Best Directing in Fajr. In 2009, About Elly was released in
France and had over 100,000 admissions.
After the success of About Elly, Asghar Farhadi started to write A Separation (Jodaeiye Nader Az Simin) which he started directing in 2010. Again the focus is on a middle class couple, whose marriage is on the rocks, and who, despite having a child, go through a divorce. The film attracted a wide audience from many different cultures and points of view.
A Separation was screened at the Berlin International Film Festival for the first time and broke an audience record that had stood for 60 years. The impact unprecedented, with the film taking the Golden Bear for Best Film, the Silver Bear for the ensemble of the actresses and the Silver Bear for the ensemble of the actors. This was only the beginning of a long list of prizes of over 70 awards internationally, including the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, the César for Best Foreign FIlm, and finally the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
A Separation was an international success, unparalleled by any Iranian film. In France alone, the film chalked up one million admissions, the most widely‐viewed Iranian film in that country, and was released in 250 theatres. The film was released in December 2011 in the United States, equaling the most successful foreign language films ever made. In the same year, Asghar Farhadi was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
Other awards won by A Separation include: Best Foreign Language Film at the Durban International Film Festival, Best Feature Film and Best Screenplay at the Asia Pacific FIlm Festival, and Best Film at the Sydney Film Festival.
While A Separation was being screened in different festivals and countries, Asghar Farhadi and his family moved to Paris so he could start work on the screenplay of The Past, a story that takes place outside of Iran. The main character, Ahmad, returns to Paris after a four year absence to finalize the legal aspects of his divorce from his wife Marie. Ahmad’s presence in Marie’s life after all this time creates a complicated situation for them, and forces them to dig into their common past. The Past was released in 2013 in France at the same time as the Cannes Film Festival and again it had around one million admissions. It won the Best Actress Award at Cannes and was nominated for a Golden Globe and César.
After The Past, Asghar Farhadi started on a story to be shot in Spain, produced by Alexandre Mallet‐Guy and Pedro Almodóvar. However, the project was delayed for a year so he decided to take advantage of this time to make The Salesman in Iran. A few months later, The Salesman was selected to run in competition at Cannes, the second Farhadi film to be run for the Palme d’Or this year.
The Salesman is the second film by Asghar Farhadi produced by Alexandre Mallet‐Guy for Memento Films Production and their fifth film together in distribution. They first met in Berlin in 2009, where Alexandre Mallet‐Guy had just discovered About Elly .