Iran’s Farabi Cinema Foundation has shortlisted 10 films that are being considered as potential candidates to represent the Middle Eastern nation in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 88th Academy Awards. A team of experts from the Iranian film industry has been commissioned to review the films and make a final selection in the upcoming days. Iran is one of the last country’s to submit a film into the race which this year includes films from 67 countries so far.
Here are the 10 films being considered:
Note that none of this films has secured U.S. distribution, thus rights are available.
Despite censorship and other restrictions imposed on Iranian filmmakers, which would never allowed a film like Panahi’s "Taxi" to become the country’s Oscar entry, Iranian cinema is thriving and the films in this list showcase a range of sophisticated stories that have gotten the attention of multiple international festivals.
Simply based on its scale and the talent involved, the clear favorite would be Majidi’s biopic "Muhammad: The Messenger of God." Not only is the director one of the most internationally acclaimed Iranian auteurs of all time, but the film also has 3-time Academy Award-winner Vittorio Storaro as its DP. It’s also the most expensive Iranian film ever made. However, regardless of these numerous qualities, the committee might choose to look elsewhere to avoid more controversy as the film has been banned in other Muslim countries that reject any visual depiction of the prophet, even if his face never appears in the film.
If Majidi’s epic is deemed too much of a liability, there are plenty of other great options among the shortlisted works: Yazdanian’s "What’s the Time in Your World?" stars two of Iran’s most well-known actors, Leila Hatami ("A Separation") and Ali Mosaffa ("The Past"), and won the FIPRESCI Prize at last year’s Busan International Film Festival; "Tales" won the Best Screenplay award at the 2014 Venice Film Festival and stars "A Separation’s" Peyman Moaadi; "Melbourne," which also stars Moaadi, had extensive presence in the festival circuit picking up several awards, and Mokri’s "Fish & Cat" screened at AFI Fest and won a Special Prize in Venice back in 2013.
Iran won its first Academy Award with Asghar Farhadi’s masterpiece "A Separation" in 2012. Prior to that deserved win, the country had only been nominated once for Majid Majidi’s "Children of Heaven."