Renowned Iranian writer/director Asghar Farhadi’s films depict dramas in the lives of ordinary people that present a microcosm of modern Iran and its complexities, particularly in regard to class and gender, with middle-class marriage his signature theme.
As a student Farhadi arrived in Tehran hoping to study cinema in college and was instead assigned to the theatre school, which he has credited with teaching him to write. He counts among his film influences American theatrical adaptations such as A Streetcar Named Desire. In The Salesman his love of theatre is brought into his films for the first time, as a couple’s marriage is put under pressure when preparing for a local production of Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’ (Tehran sees frequent stagings of works by Western playwrights).
The Salesman is a WFC Members’ Choice film and is the third Farhadi film we have screened, along with The Past and A Separation. The latter was the first Iranian film to win a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. When The Salesman also won the Foreign Language Oscar in 2017 Farhadi became one of a select band of directors to have won that award more than once, along with Vittorio de Sica, Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini. Farhadi hit the headlines for refusing to attend the Academy Awards, in protest at Trump’s travel ban, and was eventually given his Oscar in Paris.
“Farhadi focuses on what seem like banal everyday moments … but gradually gives us a far more nuanced view of his characters and their motivations than we would get in a more conventional film.” Geoffrey Macnab, Independent
“Farhadi has an unparalleled gift for pacing, snaring us with well-timed reveals that subtly shift the story on its axis.” Wendy Ide, Observer