Telluride screening convinced Barker, Bernard pic had the goods

It was the screening at Telluride that convinced Sony Pictures Classic toppers Michael Barker and Tom Bernard that “A Separation” had the goods.

The response to the pic at the fest last fall was so strong that the SPC chiefs resolved to push filmmaker Asghar Farhadi for directing and original screenplay Oscar honors as well as the film for foreign-lingo pic.

Farhadi thought they were nuts. But on Tuesday morning, the helmer took a break from working on a screenplay in Paris to send the SPC duo an email that began with: “Wow.”

Barker told Variety that he was not surprised that Farhadi landed an original screenplay nom in addition to the pic making the foreign-lingo cut.

Barker and Bernard have broken the language barrier in the screenplay category in the past with foreign pics. Pedro Almodovar won the original screenplay trophy for 2002′s “Talk to Me,” while Agnieszka Holland was nommed for adapted screenplay in 1992 for “Europa Europa.”

“The (Acad’s) writers branch has a history of paying attention to the quality of the work regardless of where the movie comes from,” Barker told Variety.

Farhadi did the translation of the “Separation” script from Farsi to English himself. SPC made it available to members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science’s writing branch via a download, “and boy, did they download it,” Barker said.

Farhadi said the shock of the Academy recognition is in keeping with the strange journey he’s been on with “Separation.”

“For a long time I had this picture carved inside my head,” he told Variety. “I don’t know how it got there, but once it was there I just knew I had to make this film.”

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