Profile: Asghar Farhadi - Director of A Separation
Story of couple who split up over decision to leave Iran
Isfahan, Iran, 1972
Farhadi embarked on filmmaking while still at school, where he made Super 8 and 16mm films as part of the Iranian Young Cinema Society. He went on to graduate from Tehran University with a Masters in Direction. His feature debut came in 2003 with Dancing in the Dust, followed by The Beautiful City (2004) and Fireworks Wednesday (2006). In 2009 Farhadi won the Best Director award at Berlin Film Festival for About Elly, the story of a group of Iranian friends who head to the Caspian Sea on a short holiday.
What’s he up to now?
Farhadi’s latest film, A Separation, also received great acclaim at Berlin Film Festival. It won the Golden Bear award for Best Film (the first Iranian film to do so) as well as the Best Actor and Best Actress prizes for the ensemble cast. It tells the story of a couple, Nader and Simin, who decide to separate following a dispute as to whether they should leave Iran to ensure better prospects for their daughter, and the events that ensue.
On the genesis of the film
‘I’m not sure when the first spark for the story came to my mind, but I guess it started with a few pictures in my head that wouldn’t leave me. They weren’t obviously connected, such as a picture of a man who bathes his old father or a picture of a man and wife who sat in front of a judge for their divorce case.’
On his approach to working with actors
‘We practise for several months before filming. The practices are in a theatrical manner with the difference that we don’t practise the script scenes. Most of the time, the practice is spent on creating the characters’ pasts and their relationships with one another before the story begins.’
Before directing his first feature film, Farhadi found success as the writer of Low Heights by Ebrahim Hatamikia. The film stars actress Leila Hatami, who also plays one of the lead roles in A Separation.
A Separation is at Filmhouse, Edinburgh, from Fri 1–Thu 21 Jul.