Last year, A Separation became the first Iranian film to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language feature. But this year, Variety reports, the country will not be submitting a film for consideration for the award (the question of whether it makes any sense at all that this is the way movies are put in the running for the award is an entirely separate matter).
Iranian culture minister Muhammad Hosseini explained the boycott as a response to “an intolerable insult to the Prophet of Islam,” referring to the now-infamous trailer for the anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims. The video sparked international protests among Muslims earlier this month, which were briefly blamed as the impetus for the attack that killed Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three members of his staff. Unpleasant developments have arisen around the video, as it has been revealed that he director of the film mislead his actors as to what they were appearing in. It’s ugly news all around, and this is just the latest bit of ugliness.
Setting aside any thoughts on whether protesting over blasphemy is sensible, does this move even make sense as a form of protest? The only connection between the Oscars and Innocence of Muslims is that the Oscars are given out by an American organization, and the Islamophoblic film is American-made. Is this a cultural misunderstanding, a conflation of Hollywood with all American film? No matter what the case, this situation demonstrates how problems between Islam and the west often stem from ignorance and cultural barriers on both sides.