‘The Salesman’ Director Asghar Farhadi on Erasing Fears Through Film

TheWrap Screening Series: “The cinema can do something really important,” he tells TheWrap’s Steve Pond

Asghar Farhadi

The day after he won the 2012 Best Foreign Language Oscar for “A Separation,” filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, who is a master at exposing domestic discord through his multi-layered screenplays, told a touching story about an inspirational encounter with a fellow Iranian.

“The following afternoon, I went on that same street where the Kodak theater is,” Farhadi told TheWrap’s Steve Pond at a post-screening Q&A of his trip down Hollywood Blvd. “I wanted to see what that street was like, it was just ordinary guys whereas the night before it had been full of all of this celebration.

“We are walking with my friends on the sidewalk and somebody approaching from afar had their arms spread wide open and seemed very surprised at seeing me,” the director continued. “He embraced me and he was weeping and then later I learned that he was a tour operator who took tourists around L.A.”

The tour operator told Farhadi that “he’d been doing this for a number of years but that he rarely told the tourists that he was Iranian they would be afraid to get on his tour bus … he would just say some other country.”

However, the tour operator was inspired by Farhadi to tell to be more open about his country of birth. “He said, ‘starting today, when your film got the Oscar, now I’m going around telling everybody that I’m Iranian.’”

“So cinema is something that can erase these fears that are fake fears,” the filmmaker, who was born in Iran’s Isfahan province, explained.

“The Salesman,” Farhadi’s first film shot in Iran since the Oscar-winning “A Separation,” tells of a couple of theater actors whose relationship is tested when they move into a new building.

The film is a slow-burning, visceral drama that explores the psychology of vengeance and a relationship put under strain while continuing to explore the condition of women in Iran and the male psyche. After their old flat becomes damaged, Eman (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (), are forced to move into a new apartment. However, once relocated, a sudden eruption of violence linked to the previous tenant of their new home dramatically changes the couple’s life, creating a simmering tension between husband and wife.