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Oscars: Iran Picks Doc ‘Finding Farideh’ As International Feature Film Contender

Nick Vivarelli

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Finding Farideh,” a feature-length documentary about an Iranian girl adopted at infancy by a Dutch couple who 40 years later travels to Iran in search of her biological parents, is Iran’s candidate for the recently renamed International Feature Film Oscar.

Co-directed by young Tehran-based duo Azadeh Mousavi and Kourosh Ataee, the doc bridges East and West. It was selected by a committee of Iranian film industry professionals from a shortlist of 10 titles. “Finding Farideh” prevailed over two strong narrative features: the drug-addiction themed thriller “Just 6.5,” directed by Saeid Rustai, which has broken local box office records and will be premiering internationally in Venice, and veteran auteur Reza Mirkarimi’s  “Castle of Dreams.” These two titles had been considered the frontrunners.

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Which is not to say that “Farideh” does not have full Oscar credentials.

The true tale of the protagonists’ return to her birthplace to have a DNA test and learn about her Iranian identity and culture despite resistance from the Dutch couple who adopted her when she was a toddler, has elicited praise and secured slots on the international fest circuit including at the Big Sky Documentary Festival in Montana. “Farideh” is slated to screen next month at the upcoming Flahertiana International Documentary Film Festival in Russia.

In recent years more countries have been submitting documentaries as their official entries for the International Feature Film Oscar. But this is the first time that a doc is Iran’s official submission.

Iran has won the Oscar in this category twice. In 2016 with Ashgar Farhadi’s “The Salesman,” and in 2013 with “A Separation,” also by Farhadi.

The 92nd Academy Awards will be held on February 9, 2020.

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