Iranian-Israeli unity at Oscars panel event

By Jennifer Lipman, February 27, 2012

An Iranian director participated in a pre-Oscars panel event with an Israeli filmmaker without incident, despite the growing tensions between the two countries.

Footnote director Joseph Cedar was seated next to Iran's Asghar Farhadi at the event on Saturday evening. Mr Farhadi's film, A Separation, triumphed over Footnote at the ceremony on Sunday to take home the Best Foreign Language Film award.

In recent months Iranian athletes have boycotted sporting events and refused to work with Israelis, including pulling out of a fixture against a Serbian side because the team was managed by Avram Grant.

But Iran's official ban on contact with Israelis did not affect the Oscars event, which also featured Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland. Her film, In Darkness, told the story of a family from the Lvov ghetto that survived the Holocaust with the help of a Polish man.

Mr Cedar, an Orthodox Jew, attended the event but because it was Shabbat he walked two miles from his hotel and declined to have a microphone pinned on him.

Mr Cedar's film, a comedy set at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, won the award for Best Screenplay at last year's Cannes festival.

It may be unlikely that his film will be screened in Iran, but A Separation has attracted around 30,000 Israeli filmgoers since it opened in Israel earlier this month.

Last updated: 11:03am, February 27 2012