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Friday, September 24, 2021

For the first time, a Qatar-financed film wins an Oscar

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By Victoria Scott

A scene from The Salesman by Asghar Farhadi. Credit: DFI

The Salesman, a film funded in part by Qatar’s Doha Film Institute (DFI), won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles last night.

In a celebratory tweet this morning, the DFI described the win as a “historic moment,” adding that it is the first time in 48 years that a film co-financed by an Arab country had won the award.

It’s also the first time ever that a Qatar-financed film has won the coveted prize.

However, this isn’t the first time that a project co-financed by DFI has made the shortlist.

Last year, two films also partly funded by the institute — Theeb and Mustang — made it to the nominations list.

Ceremony boycott

The Salesman is the story of a young couple whose relationship breaks down while they are performing Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

It was directed by Iranian Asghar Farhadi.

Farhadi wasn’t present in Los Angeles to receive the award, however.

He had decided to boycott the ceremony to protest President Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban,” which temporarily barred entry to the US to nationals from seven-Muslim majority countries.

In a statement read out on his behalf at the ceremony, Farhadi said that his absence was “out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US”

He added that he believed that film makers had an important part to play in breaking down barriers and increasing mutual respect and understanding around the world.

“They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever,” he said.

Qumra ‘Master’

Farhadi will be in Doha next month for the DFI’s Qumra, an event which aims to nurture young filmmakers from around the world.

He has been selected as one of Qumra’s “masters,” expert directors who will lead sessions at the event.

Each Master will participate in a series of masterclasses, workshops and one-on-one sessions with directors of participating DFI-backed projects and industry professionals from around the world.

They will also each screen one of their films for Doha audiences, the DFI said in a statement.

The third edition of Qumra is set to take place in Doha from March 3–8 at Katara Cultural Village, though public screenings kick off on Wednesday, March 1.

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