Iran has chosen childhood labor drama “Sun Children” as its national representative for the Academy Awards best international feature film category. It is the sixth time that a firm directed by Majid Majidi will represent the country.
The decision was announced on Sunday by the delegation of the representative of Iranian cinema to the Oscar ceremony. The committee said that it screened 90 films and whittled that down to a shortlist of 12 before making its final decision. Other films in contention had included drama “Walnut Tree,” “Yalda: A Night for Forgiveness” and “Careless Crime.”
“Sun Children” had its world premiere in competition at the 77th Venice Film Festival in September. The film’s star, Ruhollah Zamani, was named the best young actor at the Italian festival and claimed the Marcello Mastroianni Award. Majidi was presented with the Lanterna Magica award.
The story follows a small group of kids who sign up for education at a community organization, with the intention of using it to pull off a heist. Along the way it touches on child labor in Iran, inequality, and the deficiencies of the country’s school system. It was shot largely on location with a mixture of unmannered adults and non-professional child actors. In reviewing the film, Variety said that the plot was considerably more complicated than many previous Majidi works, but that it remained “relatable.”
Shamila Shirzad, an Afghan migrant youth who was previously working in the Tehran subway, and in the film played the sister of Ali, traveled to Venice for the presentation. But Zamani was diagnosed with coronavirus and could not go.
Iran has regularly submitted films for Oscar consideration. Two, “A Separation” and “The Salesman,” both directed by Asghar Farhadi, won the best foreign-language film prize. Majidi’s 1998 picture “Children of Heaven” received an Oscar nomination, but did not win.