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Asghar Farhadi
Asghar Farhadi in 2018-2 (cropped).jpg
Farhadi at the 2018 Stockholm International Film Festival
Born (1972-05-07) 7 May 1972 (age 52)
Homayoon Shahr, Isfahan Province, Imperial State of Iran
Alma mater Tarbiat Modares University
University of Tehran
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
  • film producer
Years active 1997–present
Notable work
About Elly (2009)
A Separation (2011)
The Past (2013)
The Salesman (2016)
Everybody Knows (2018)
A Hero (2021)
Parisa Bakhtavar
(m. 1990)
Children 2, including Sarina Farhadi

Asghar Farhadi (Persian: اصغر فرهادی, [æsˈɢæɾ ɛ fæɾhɑːˈdiː]; born 7 May 1972) is an Iranian film director and screenwriter. He is considered one of the most prominent filmmakers of Iranian cinema as well as world cinema in the 21st century. His films have gained recognition for their focus on the human condition, and portrayals of intimate and challenging stories of internal family conflicts. In 2012, he was included on the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. That same year, he also received the Legion of Honour from France.

Farhadi made his directorial film debut with the drama Dancing in the Dust (2003) followed by The Beautiful City (2004) and Fireworks Wednesday (2006). He gained acclaim for his film About Elly (2009) earning a Silver Bear for Best Director. He rose to greater prominence becoming one of the few directors worldwide to have won the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film twice, for the family drama A Separation (2011) and the moral drama The Salesman (2016), the latter of which also received the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Screenplay.

He also gained acclaim for his films The Past (2013) which was filmed in France and Everybody Knows (2018) which was filmed in Spain. He returned to Iran with A Hero (2021), which earned Farhadi the Cannes Film Festival's Grand Prix.

Early life and education

Farhadi was born in Homayoon Shahr, a city located in the Isfahan Province near the city of Isfahan. At the age of 15, in 1987, he joined the Isfahan branch office of the Iranian Youth Cinema Society, which had been established for 4 years earlier and he made several short films. He is also a graduate of theatre, with a BA in dramatic arts and MA in stage direction from University of Tehran and Tarbiat Modares University, respectively.


2003–2009: Rise to prominence

At the start of his career, Farhadi made numerous short 8 mm and 16 mm films in the Isfahan branch of the Iranian Young Cinema Society before moving on to writing plays and screenplays for IRIB. He also directed such TV series as A Tale of a City and co-wrote the screenplay for Ebrahim Hatamikia's Low Heights. In 2003, Farhadi made his feature film debut with Dancing in the Dust about a man having trouble raising money for his marriage dowry installements. Deborah Young of Variety praised Farhadi as an emerging filmmaker writing, "Dispensing with heavyhanded symbolism, Farhadi tells the tale engrossingly and with a lot of physicality through the two main actors". The film earned Farhadi a nomination at the 25th Moscow International Film Festival and three awards at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival including Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actr for Faramarz Gharibian.

Farhadi's sophmore effort was The Beautiful City about a man celebrating his 18th birthday in a detention center while being in prison for murder. The film won praise for Farhadi's intricate commentary on Iran’s Islamic judicial system. Ronnie Scheib of Variety wrote, "Farhadi launches a simple-seeming quest through all manner of obstacles and complications, each detour greatly altering the nature of the journey". Farhadi won the Grand Prix at the Warsaw Film Festival. With his third film, Fireworks Wednesday, Farhadi won the Gold Hugo at the 2006 Chicago International Film Festival. Set amongst the days before the Persian New Year, people set off fireworks following an ancient Zoroastrian tradition. A domestic dispute ensues. Geoff Andrew of Time Out declared, "What distinguishes the film is the way Farhadi keeps us guessing from as to what exactly is happening and why; repeatedly shifting our point of view, he forces us to question our assumptions about characters and their reliability. This compelling, corrosive account of male-female relationships in today’s Tehran is tempered by genuine compassion for the individuals concerned; wisely, Farhadi never serves judgement on them in their troubled pursuit of truth, love and happiness. Intelligent, illuminating and directed with unflashy expertise."

In 2009, Farhadi directed his fourth film, About Elly which tackles middle class families in Iran. The film earned critical acclaim with Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian describing it as "an absorbing picture, powerfully acted, disturbing and suspenseful". He also compared the film to Roman Polanski's Knife in the Water (1962) and Michaelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura (1960) adding, "Farhadi also has Michael Haneke's beady eye for the dynamics and symptoms of group guilt." The film won Farhadi the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 59th International Berlin Film Festival and also Best Picture at the Tribeca Film Festival. The latter film is about a group of Iranians who take a trip to the Iranian beaches of Caspian Sea that turns tragic. Film theorist and critic David Bordwell has called About Elly a masterpiece.

2011–2016: Breakthrough and acclaim

Asghar Farhadi, Viennale 2009
Farhadi in 2009

His film A Separation premiered on 9 February 2011 at the 29th Fajr International Film Festival in Tehran and received critical acclaim from the Iran Society of Film Critics. It earned Farhadi four awards, including Best Director (for the third time after Fireworks Wednesday and About Elly). On 15 February 2011, it also played in competition at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival, which received a Golden Bear for best film, becoming the first Iranian film to win that award. In June 2011, A Separation won the Sydney Film Prize in competition with The Tree of Life, directed by Terrence Malick. It also won the Best Film award at the 2011 Asia Pacific Screen Awards. Roger Ebert praised the Farhadi's on his nuanced depiction of Iranian culture writing, "[He] provides a useful portrait of Iran today. Some inflamed American political rhetoric has portrayed it as a rogue nation eager to start nuclear war...this film portrays a more nuanced nation, and its decent characters are trying to do the right thing. To untangle right and wrong in this fascinating story is a moral challenge." Bob Mondello of NPR also praised Farhadi writing, "Consider[ing] how heavily censored filmmakers are in Iran, director Asghar Farhadi's accomplishment starts to seem downright astonishing". Mondello described the film as "a beautifully crafted [and] fascinating film".

On 19 December 2011, Farhadi was announced as being a jury member for the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival, which was held in February 2012. On 15 January 2012, A Separation won the Golden Globe for the Best Foreign Language Film. The film was also the official Iranian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2012 Academy Awards where, in addition to being nominated in this category, it was also nominated in the Best Original Screenplay category. On 26 February 2012, A Separation became the first Iranian movie to win the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film, at the 84th Academy Awards. This marked Farhadi as the first Iranian to have won an Academy Award in any competitive category. Farhadi also received praised for his film from Steven Spielberg, David Fincher, Meryl Streep and Woody Allen. He was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in June 2012, along with 175 other members. A Separation also won the César Award for Best Foreign Film and the Independent Spirit Award for Best International Film in 2012.

Le Passé Cannes 2013
Farhadi, Berenice Bejo and the cast of The Past at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival

In 2013, Farhadi's film The Past starring Bérénice Bejo and Tahar Rahim was released. This would be Farhadi's first film in the French language. The film competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Bejo won the Best Actress Award at Cannes for her performance in the film. The film received universal critical acclaim. It holds a 93% "certified fresh" rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 144 reviews with a weighted average score of 8.2/10 and the site's consensus: "Beautifully written, sensitively directed, and powerfully acted, The Past serves as another compelling testament to Asghar Farhadi's gift for finely layered drama." On Metacritic, the film has a normalized score of 85 out of 100 based on 41 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". The film received a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was selected as the Iranian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.

His 2016 film The Salesman, starring Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti, competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, where it won two awards: Best Actor for Shahab Hosseini and Best Screenplay for Farhadi. ..... The human attempted to find the attacker while she struggles to cope with post-traumatic stress. During this the husband attempts to perform Arthur Miller's 1949 play Death of a Salesman on stage. Farhadi chose Miller's play as his story within a story based on shared themes. He also compared the film to the George Stevens film A Place in the Sun (1951). The film was a co-production between Iran and France, the film was shot in Tehran, beginning in 2015. David Sims of The Atlantic praised Farhadi writing, "Rather, he wants to explore the terrifying speed with which conflict can disrupt our mundane lives, and the unconscious need we possess to slip into more outsized roles." Sims added "The Salesman is a typically wrenching film one that morphs from a quiet family drama to a low-key tale of revenge, and is all the more impressive for how seamlessly it executes that shift."

Movie news conference The Salesman (5)
Farhadi at a press conference for The Salesman (2016)

On 26 February 2017, Farhadi won his second Oscar for Academy Award for Best International Feature Film for The Salesman at the 89th Academy Awards. The Salesman had already won the award for the Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival. Following then the President of the United States of America Donald Trump's executive order barring Iranians from entering the country, Farhadi said he would not attend the 2017 Academy Awards, despite being nominated and winning for the best foreign-language film. He announced that two prominent Iranian Americans, Anousheh Ansari and Firouz Naderi would represent him in the ceremony. Anousheh Ansari is famed for being the first female space tourist and first Iranian in space, and Naderi as director of Solar Systems Exploration at NASA. A few hours before the ceremony, he addressed a group of protesters in London via a video link from Iran. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, screened the movie publicly in Trafalgar Square as a celebration of the city's diversity. "This solidarity is off to a great start", he told them. "I hope this movement will continue and spread, for it has within itself the power to stand up to fascism, be victorious in the face of extremism and say no to oppressive political powers everywhere."

After winning the Academy Award for the second time, Farhadi had a prepared statement read by Anousheh Ansari. "I'm sorry I'm not with you tonight", Farhadi's statement read. "My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of the other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S. Dividing the world into us and our enemies categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries that have been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others -- an empathy that we need today more than ever." Before the ceremony, all five directors nominated for foreign language film issued a joint statement, obtained by USA Today, that condemned "the climate of fanaticism and nationalism" in the United States, among other countries. The directors – Farhadi, Maren Ade (Toni Erdmann), Hannes Holm (A Man Called Ove), Martin Zandvliet (Land of Mine) and Bentley Dean and Martin Butler (Tanna) – said that no matter which film wins, the Oscar is dedicated to "all the people, artists, journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understanding, and who uphold freedom of expression and human dignity – values whose protection is now more important than ever."


Cannes 2018 17
Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, Farhadi, and the cast of Everybody Knows at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival

In 2018, Farhadi directed his eighth feature film titled, Everybody Knows starring Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz and Ricardo Darin. The film, a Spanish psychological thriller, debuted at the 71st Cannes Film Festival where it played in the competition for the Palme d'Or. At the Toronto premiere of Everybody Knows, the director shared with Ikon London Magazine his plans to "Come to London West End with his play". He said "I know there is a lot of great plays every day. And I wish one day I do a play there. It is not far. It is our plan." The film has earned critical acclaim earning a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics praising the two leads but adding that the film is below Farhadi's usually high standards.

A Hero is Farhadi's 9th feature film. Alexandre Mallet-Guy co-produced the work. This film was shot in Marvdasht, Iran, and narrates a social theme. In this film, Amir Jadidi, Mohsen Tanabandeh, Fereshteh Sadre Orafaee, Sarina Farhadi and Sahar Goldoust play roles. The film was introduced as the representative of Iranian cinema on 20 October 2021, to compete in the 94th Academy Awards.

In April 2022, The Hollywood Reporter mistakenly reported that Farhadi had been found guilty, when in fact he was indicted by an Iranian court on charges of plagiarism for allegedly stealing the premise for A Hero from an earlier documentary made by Azadeh Masihzadeh, a former film student of Farhadi. The case is now before the criminal court; if convicted, Farhadi could face up to three years in prison. In October 2022, The New Yorker published an article, which included more information about the case and exclusive interviews with those who had previously worked with Farhadi.


Social and class structures

Movie news conference The Salesman (6)
Farhadi in a The Salesman's press conference. Taraneh Alidoosti on his right and Shahab Hosseini on his left.

Farhadi's films present a microcosm of modern Iran and explore the inevitable complications that arise via class, gender, and religious differences. For example, his 2011 film A Separation portrays various intractable conflicts and arguments that force the characters to reflect on the moral grounds of their own decisions.

In Farhadi's films, Iran is depicted as having a rigid class system that endures across the history of pre- and post-revolutionary Iran. Farhadi films the complexities of everyday life in contemporary Iran, focusing on how diverse perspectives are embedded within social structures such as class and gender. Farhadi has his style like "open ending movies", being realistic and "narrative gaps".

Cultural norms

Farhadi's films frequently criticize divisions in Iranian society along class, gender and religious lines. However, they are notable for their subtlety of treatment. Farhadi himself has never rejected Iran, most of his films are deeply rooted in urban Iranian society, and he has frequently expressed his commitment to the country and its people, most notably on the two occasions he won the Academy Award. When he picked up the award for A Separation, he dedicated the win to the Iranian nation. When The Salesman won the prize a few years later, Farhadi declined to attend the event in protest at the policies of the American administration.

What is less noticed is his veiled criticism of religious standards in Iran. His debut feature Dancing in the Dust opens with the Islamic invocation Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim (In the name of Allah, the most benevolent, the most merciful) just as a hand cleans a car window to reveal a large statue of a man, situated on a pedestal in the street. Idolatry is forbidden in Islam, and the construction of human statues is likewise discouraged in strict interpretations. For his second film, Beautiful City, Farhadi repeated a similar cinematic trick; as a prison microphone blares out the Bismillah phrase, it is revealed that a young man is carving human figurines. Neither film has been released in the West, and they have not been seen as widely as his latter films.


In 2012, Farhadi participated in that year's Sight & Sound film polls. Held every ten years to select the greatest films of all time, contemporary directors were asked to select ten films. Farhadi's choices are listed below:

  • Rashomon (Japan, 1950)
  • The Big Road (China, 1935)
  • The Godfather (US, 1972)
  • Tokyo Story (Japan, 1953)
  • The Apartment (US, 1960)
  • Three Colors: Red (France, 1994)
  • Take the Money and Run (US, 1969)
  • Persona (Sweden, 1966)
  • Taxi Driver (US, 1976)
  • Modern Times (US, 1936)

Accusation of plagiarism

In 2022, The New Yorker reported allegations of Farhadi plagiarizing many of his films’ ideas, and stealing from students of a workshop he mentored decades earlier. Farhadi denied the allegations addressing them at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival when he served as a juror.

In March 2024, an Iranian court issued a verdict acquitting Farhadi of the plagiarism allegations, based on the review by several University of Tehran copyright law experts and other experts.


Feature films

Year Title Director Writer Producer Distribution Notes
2002 Low Heights No Yes No Co-written with Ebrahim Hatamikia
2003 Dancing in the Dust Yes Yes No
2004 The Beautiful City Yes Yes No
2006 Fireworks Wednesday Yes Yes No Grasshopper Film
2007 Canaan No Yes No Co-written with Mani Haghighi
2008 Tambourine No Yes No
2009 About Elly Yes Yes Yes Dreamlab Films
Trial on the Street No Yes No Co-written with Masoud Kimiai
2011 A Separation Yes Yes Yes Sony Pictures Classics
2013 The Past Yes Yes No
2016 The Salesman Yes Yes Yes
2018 Everybody Knows Yes Yes No Focus Features
2021 A Hero Yes Yes Yes Amazon Studios


Year Title Director Writer Producer Broadcast
1998 The Waiter Yes Yes Yes IRIB TV5
Doctors No No Yes IRIB TV3
Farrokh & Faraj Residential Complex Yes No No IRIB TV2
1999 Youthful Days No No Yes IRIB TV5
A Tale of a City Yes Yes Yes IRIB TV5
2001 A Tale of a City II Yes Yes Yes IRIB TV5

Awards and honors

The Minister for Information & Broadcasting and Culture, Shri S. Jaipal Reddy presenting the Golden Peacock Award for the best film by an Asian Director to Mr. Asghar Farhadi
Farhadi receiving Golden Peacock Award for his film Beautiful City, at IFFI (2004)

Farhadi is one of a select list of directors who have won the Best Foreign Film Oscar more than once. The others are Vittorio de Sica and Federico Fellini (four times each), Ingmar Bergman (three times), and René Clément and Akira Kurosawa (twice each). The following is a selection of his major awards.

A Separation won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, becoming the first Iranian film to win the award. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

The Salesman won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2017. However, Farhadi did not attend the 89th Academy Awards ceremony in protest of the U.S. Executive Order 13769.

A Hero won the Hafez Award for Best Director – Motion Picture and Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (both original and adapted) in 2021.


See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Asghar Farhadi para niños

  • Massoud Farasati
  • Cinema of Iran
  • Persian cinema
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