The screening of Iranian award-winning auteur Asghar Farhadi’s latest feature The Salesman in Israeli cinemas has sparked criticism in some Persian media outlets.
Writing on its front page that The Salesman is Farhadi’s third film going on screens in Israel, Principlist newspaper Javan Daily, affiliated with IRGC, called for “special attention” to the warm welcome Farhadi’s works receive in Israel. The outlet asked why “the Zionists, as the embodiment of modern crimes, ... have always rushed to watch Farhadi’s films”, while they unleash rage even at a simple line of dialogue in the Iranian-made TV series on the life of Prophet Joseph and “never allow Hollywood to explore the historical realities of Judaism unless in the way they choose.”
The IRGC-affiliated outlet went on to note that an Israeli film distributing company, Lev Cinemas, has put The Salesman on its list, after the Academy Award and Cannes accredited film’s global screening started recently.
The article in Javan wrote that Farhadi’s latest work would go on Israeli screens in a few days, noting that some other Persian outlets misreported the screening as the first of an Iranian film in Israeli cinemas. “The same distributor has screened Farhadi’s A Separation in 2012 and The Past in 2014,” the article added.
According to the daily, the screening of A Separation in the Occupied Palestine was heavily criticized back in Iran. “What brings the Zionist regime to screen The Salesman lies in the regime’s efforts to propagate a cultured image of itself, which is what happened when A Separation was screened in the midst of Gaza siege that led to a severe shortage of food and medicine in the region; a crime against humanity. Once again, as anti-Zionist sensations are at their peak in the world, another Farhadi film, [ironically] produced in the Islamic Republic, is coming to help the aspirations of the child-killer Zionist regime,” the article argued.
Several Principlist outlets had reported that The Salesman was the first Iranian film to be screened in Israel. The Principlist Iran’s Student News Agency (SNN) had criticized the film’s sponsorship undertaken by a Qatari prince and global distribution through Amazon.com as a controversial and meaningful line-up that could provide the key to the question of its Israeli screening. “Not to add that the storyline and the picture it gives of Iran could serve the taste of cultural officials in the Zionist regime,” SNN wrote.
Bellwether hardliner daily Kayhan has also had its own signature reaction. “After the anti-Iranian, anti-religious identity of Asghar Farhadi’s Academy Award representative was revealed, his film’s latest achievement overseas is a warm welcome from occupiers of Palestine! Obviously however, the Zionist regime film will use the film as propaganda against the Iranian nation,” Kayhan wrote. The daily went on to lambast twice Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award winner Asghar Farhadi for his failure to show any reaction to the screening.
While Farhadi is mourning the sad death of a long-time friend, the well-known critic and producer Ali Moallem who died of a heart attack on Monday at the age of 54, attacks over the screening continue to make the rounds on conservative media. Conservative Tasnim News Agency has published a cartoon (above) which shows Farhadi, wearing a wind-up coat held by a hand, which in turn wears the flag of Israel as a wristband. Different captions accompany the cartoon as it goes viral in other Principlist online outlet, the most popular of which reads: “The Salesman: Farhadism, the buyer: Zionism”.
Several Iranian films have already been screened in Israeli cinemas, including those by now self-exiled Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Majid Majidi, and the late Abbas Kiarostami (read our obituary here), though it seems the works of Farhadi, a director whose works and social and political remarks are constantly criticized by Principlist media, has raised much stronger protests.
* The larger part of the above article is translated from a Persian story published on Fararu.com.