Art And Culture

Iran Submits ‘Muhammad’ for 88th Academy Award

Iran Submits ‘Muhammad’  for 88th Academy AwardIran Submits ‘Muhammad’  for 88th Academy Award

Majid Majidi’s biopic ‘Muhammad: The Messenger of God’ was selected as Iran’s entry for the 88th Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Iran was one of the last countries to submit its entry in the Oscar awards, taking the step just a week prior to the deadline (October 1) for foreign language films. So far, films from 67 countries have been submitted to the event.

A team of nine cinema experts was commissioned by the Farabi Cinema Foundation (FCF) to review local productions screened in the country from October 1, 2014 to September 31, 2015, and to select the best for the Oscar entry, Cinema daily reported.

After primary evaluation, the team shortlisted 10 films as potential entries to the world’s most important film event.

Eliminating four films in the first round, the committee had a difficult task to choose from among the six movies in the second round as all were sophisticated productions and had received great attention at multiple international festivals.

Finally ‘Muhammad’ won the close competition and was named Iran’s official submission to the 88th Academy Awards, slated for February 28, 2016.

In recent weeks, there was plenty of speculation among local cineastes and film fans on the film that could best represent Iranian cinema at the Oscars.

Many predicted that Iran had only one choice that was none other than Majidi’s epic movie on the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Based on the scale and talent involved, the film seemed the best to draw attention of the Oscar selection committee.

Not only is the Iranian director an internationally acclaimed auteur, the film also has three-time Academy Award-winner Vittorio Storaro as director of photography, Oscar-winner Scott E. Anderson as visual effects supervisor and other prominent international figures who have contributed to the production. It is also the most expensive Iranian film ever made.

The movie has made $2.1 million in Iran so far since it began screening a month ago, to become the number one box office hit this year and is zooming fast to breaking the record of the best movie in the nation’s history of films.

The movie had its international premiere at the Montreal World Film Festival, Canada, August 27, and was highly acclaimed by foreign film critics, writers and screenwriters. With the enthusiasm shown by the foreign audience in viewing the film, it is expected that it will experience huge sales in global screening as well.

 Other Candidates

Even if ‘Muhammad’ for some reason had not been selected, the nine other shortlisted films also had a good chance as they were among the most successful productions of the year.

Safi Yazdanian’s ‘What’s the Time in Your World?’ stars two of Iran’s most well-known actors Leila Hatami (known for her role in Oscar-winner ‘A Separation’) and Ali Mosaffa (‘The Past’) and won the FIPRESCI Prize at last year’s Busan International Film Festival; Rakhshan Bani’Etemad’s ‘Tales’ won the Best Screenplay award at the 2014 Venice Film Festival and stars ‘A Separation’s’ Peyman Moaadi.

‘Melbourne’ by Nima Javidi, also starring Moaadi, Shahram Mokri’s ‘Fish & Cat’, ‘13’ by Hooman Seyyedi and ‘Track 143’ by Narges Abyar had an extensive presence in the festival circuit picking up several awards.

Bahram Tavakkoli’s ‘I am Diego Maradona’, Farzad Motamen’s ‘Long Goodbye’ and ‘Crazy Castle’ by Abolhassan Davudi which won Crystal Simorgh awards at the 33rd Fajr Film Festival, were also included in the list.

Iran won its first Academy Award with Asghar Farhadi’s masterpiece ‘A Separation’ in 2012. Prior to that, Iran had only been nominated once for Majid Majidi’s ‘Children of Heaven’ in 1999.

Last year, Iran’s submission ‘Today’ by Reza Mirkarimi failed to make it to the final list of nominees although it saw a brilliant year, attending foreign festivals and winning several awards.

The Oscar nominations will be announced on February 8.