A closer look at the submission of the Iranian Cinema to the Oscars in the past two decades

22 September 2018

Over the past 24 editions, the submissions of the Iranian Cinema to the Academy Awards has always been faced with various controversies and different statements expressed by the critics and supporters of the choice of films.

According to the PR Department of Farabi Cinema Foundation, the selection process of films that will be introduced as Iran’s representative in the Best Foreign Language Film Category of the Oscars is completely systematic and dates back to 20 years ago.

Over the years, there has been lots of comments and speculations regarding the selected films and many cinema experts have criticized or praised the selections.

Moreover, some critics always raise questions in regards to the members of the selection committee as they used to do it from the very beginning.

Except for two editions, when the Cinema Organization selected and introduced the representative of Iran to the Academy Awards, Farabi Cinema Foundation has been in charge of introducing Iran’s submission during these 24 editions.

Another recent topic that has been publically raised and discussed is “why should a  semi-state-owned organization be given this task?”.

Based on the rules and regulation of the Academy, film selection and introduction should be carried out through a reputable and “approved organization” who can gather experts from the cinema and cultural industries as members of the selection committee. Taking into account that the American Academy of Arts & Sciences has been in touch with Farabi Cinema Foundation as a reputable body, based on a common practice, it continues to seek Farabi’s partnership and sends all relevant form to this foundation- even in the editions Farabi was not involved in this event.

Even if we mistakenly consider Farabi as a semi-state-owned organization, in many other countries such as France and India organizations like Farabi serve this role with a more governmental structure. However, unlike those institutions, Farabi along with the Iranian Alliance of Motion Picture Guilds and the Cinema Organization choose their committee members from cinema experts and artists.  

Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, Malek- Jahan, Khazaei, Fatemeh Motamed Aria, Ezatollah Entezami, Mohammad Mehdi Dadgoo, Gholamreza Mousavi, Ali Moallem, Amir Esbati, Bahram Dehghani, Jamshid Mashayekhi, Fereshteh Taherpour, Abdollah Esfandiari, Kamal Tabrizi, Alireza Raisian and … are few of the people who have served as members of the selection committee and have chosen the most suitable representatives for the Oscars in each edition.

The abovementioned filmmakers and artists are “natural and not legal persons” that are generally chosen as cinema and cultural experts, to participate in the meeting of the selection committee to nominate the best representative of Iran for the Oscars.


List of Iranian submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film:

  1. The Cycle (1977)
  2. Through the Olive Trees (1994)
  3. The White Balloon (1995)
  4. Gabbeh (1997)
  5. Children of Heaven (1998)
  6. The Color of Paradise (1999)
  7. A Time for Drunken Horses (2000)
  8. Baran (2001)
  9. I’m Taraneh, 15 (2002)
  10. Deep Breath (2003)
  11. Turtles Can Fly (2004)
  12. So Close, So Far (2005)
  13. Café Transit (2006)
  14. M for Mother (2007)
  15. The Song of Sparrows (2008)
  16. About Elly (2009)
  17. Farewell Baghdad (2010)
  18. A Separation (2011)
  19. The Past (2013)
  20. Today (2014)
  21. Muhammad: The Messenger of God (2015)
  22. The Salesman (2016)
  23. Breath (2017)
  24. No Date, No Signature (2018)
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