The film, which premieres in Washington tonight and Boston next weekend, has been hailed by film critics and directors inside Iran and won great international acclaim as well. It received the Golden Bear for Best Film and Silver Bears for Best Actress and Best Actor ensembles at the 2011 Berlinale Film Festival and has been put forward as Iran’s official candidate for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards Feb. 26. It has already won awards at film festivals in the United States, Australia, Croatia, Russia, Britain, Spain, and parts of Asia.
“A Separation” centers on the predicament of Nader and Simin, an upper-middle-class couple seeking a divorce. Nader’s wife, Simin, wants to leave Tehran for the United States in hopes of achieving a better future for their 11-year-old daughter, Termeh, while her husband wants to stay in Iran to care for his father, whose mental health is deteriorating.
The symbolism is palpable. Nader, Simin, and Termeh’s US visas require them to leave within 40 days, a period which in Iranian tradition marks the mourning period after a loved one’s death.
Simin is mourning the loss of her homeland and wants to make a fresh start in America. But when the couple decides to separate and she packs her bags to leave, Nader’s father – Agha Joon – calls her name and takes her hand. Simin has shown him love, and he doesn’t want her to leave.