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After the impeccable Iranian drama A Separation won worldwide notice and Oscar acclaim, concern arose that its director, Asghar Farhadi, could face obstacles producing future films within Iran, as his native land is infamous for censorship of cinema. Some felt that the film, which centered on two families struggling within the country's troubled legal system, portrayed Iran in a negative light, which is an offense that could get Farhadi's works banned if not getting him exiled. This may be why he's making his next film in Paris, France.
The untitled drama will be Farhadi's first feature to shoot outside of Iran, and will get the boost of some serious star power as Oscar-winning French starlet Marion Cotillard has signed on to headline. Plot details are presently under wraps as Farhadi finalizes the script, but producer Alexander Mallet-Guy (Cold Souls) revealed to Le FilmFrançais via Screen Daily that like A Separation, this will be an emotional thriller with a social commentary element that Farhadi says will, “present the viewers of my films with questions rather than answers; something the world needs more than ever today. Posing new questions to old answers. Perhaps this cinema can be named an inquiring cinema.”
Personally, I was floored by A Separation, a film that is specific in its details, but universal in its themes and impact. It was thriller unlike any I'd seen before, where there was no real "bad" guy and the stakes for all involved felt high and relatable. After that, I'm on board for just about anything Farhadi offered as follow-up. Still, I don't think I could have wished for a better pairing than Farhadi and Cotillard. His direction lead to all four of the leads of A Separation winning the coveted Silver Bear at the Berlin International Festival in a rare four-way tie, and her performances often contain a heady mix of strength and sadness that makes them gorgeous and unforgettable. Beyond that, I'm thrilled to hear that he is not only continuing to explore his "inquiring cinema" but will do so outside of the constraints of Iran—much like Abbas Kiarostami did to create his beautiful Certified Copy. I'm sure there will be a sense of loss for Farhadi, leaving behind the country that has so long inspired him, but perhaps that will prove a new sort of muse, fueling this project into a remarkable new territory. One thing's for sure; this will be a drama to keep an eye on come award season 2013.
The untitled Asghar Farhadi project has a projected budget of €11 million, and is anticipated to shoot in Paris this fall.