Iranian state TV says Oscar win for 'Separation' a victory against Israel

ROME — Iranian state TV on Monday trumpeted the country’s first Oscar win, for Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation,” as a victory against Israel, which was also competing in the foreign film category.

The jingoistic dig came amid escalating tension over Iran’s nuclear capability.

Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcaster (IRIB) said the award managed to “leave behind” a film from the “Zionist regime,” which is how Israel is often referred to in Iran.

Israel was in the running with Joseph Cedar’s “Footnote,” about a Talmudic scholar.

Javad Shamaghdari, topper of Iran’s Cinematic Agency, portrayed the Oscar decision as the “beginning of the collapse” of Israeli influence that “beats the drum of war” in the U.S.

Many in Iran watched the Oscars live via satellite dishes.

Nima Behdadi Mehr, a film columnist in the pro-reform Mardomsalari daily paper, said the nod “would help Iranian cinema to come out of its isolation.”

Farhadi, in his Oscar acceptance speech, said he hoped it would raise awareness of Iran’s artistic achievements and rich culture that has been “hidden under the heavy dust of politics.”

Interestingly, “A Separation” is an arthouse draw in Israel, where it was released by Shani Films at its seven Lev Cinemas on Feb. 9. Unspooling in its original Farsi with Hebrew subtitles, it has drawn 30,000 viewers, according to local reports.

The only other Oscar-nommed Iranian film is Majid Majidi’s family drama “Children of Heaven,” which lost out to Roberto Benigni’s “Life Is Beautiful” in 1997.

Israel has scored four Oscar nominations since 2007 but has never won.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

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