How Iran-Israel conflict has played out beyond political realm

Al-Monitor l Zahra Alipour: An interview given by Asghar Farhadi to an Israeli journalist has become the subject of new controversy in Iran. On March 20, the Israeli daily Haaretz published a May 2016 interview with the Oscar-winning director on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival in which he said that his “only hope” for solving the problems between Iran and Israel is the people, arguing that “politicians have too much to lose.”

The exchange was published soon after hard-line media outlets in Iran criticized Farhadi for announcing the screening of his latest Oscar winner, “The Salesman,” in Israeli cinemas. Kayhan daily, whose editor-in-chief is directly appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reacted to the news on March 12, writing, “Of course, this is not the first time that a film by Asghar Farhadi is screened in Israel. [His] film ‘A Separation’ was also welcomed by the regime occupying Jerusalem and screened in Israeli cinemas in early 2012. Unfortunately, Asghar Farhadi showed no reaction, neither in the case of [the screening of] ‘A Separation’ nor now when ‘The Salesman’ is about to go up on screens in Israel.”

This time, however, the public relations office of “The Salesman” responded with a statement on March 22, which read, “The interview was done in a gathering of reporters and journalists, although one year has passed since, and it is difficult to recall the exact details. It is possible that the Israeli reporter did not introduce himself during the interview or, if he did so, the organizer failed to inform the distinguished Iranian filmmaker of the reporter’s identity.”

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