Last updated: 24 January, 2012

Iranian and Israeli films on foreign Oscars shortlist

Award-winning Iranian film “A Separation” was nominated for a foreign language Oscar on Tuesday, in a shortlist also including an Israeli movie up for one of Hollywood’s top prizes.

“A Separation,” which won the foreign language Golden Globe earlier this month, is only the second Iranian movie to be nominated for an Academy Award, after “Children of Heaven” in 1998.

Iran’s government initially slapped a ban on the movie as it was being made because director Asghar Farhadi voiced support for fellow filmmakers labeled by authorities as “anti-regime”.

But, following an apology from Farhadi that permitted “A Separation” to be completed, Tehran has come to embrace the movie, strengthening support for it as it picked up award after award in international festivals.

The film tells of a couple’s dilemma over whether to stay in Iran or move abroad.

Others on the foreign language shortlist, unveiled with nominations for all the main categories for the February 26 Oscars show, include “Footnote” by Israeli filmmaker Joseph Cedar — the 10th Israeli Academy Award nomination.

The Israeli movie is about the army withdrawal from southern Lebanon.

Also in the running are Belgian director Michael R. Roskam’s “Bullhead” (Belgium), the country’s sixth Academy nod; “In Darkness,” which is Poland’s eighth Oscar nomination; and “Monsieur Lazhar” by Canadian filmmaker Philippe Falardeau, the sixth nomination from his country.