Watch the Best Speech from Last Night's Oscars

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 27 2012 9:21 AM

Last Night's Best Speech

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Asghar Farhadi, director of Iran's Foreign Language entry 'A Separation,' accepting an Oscar at the 84th Annual Academy Awards.

Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Yes, Streep's was good, as usual, but the best acceptance speech last night was given by Asghar Farhadi, who directed the excellent film A Separation, which won last night's Oscar for best foreign-language film. After thanking a few friends, Farhadi took out a piece of paper and read:

At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to be very happy. They are happy not just because of an important award or a film or filmmaker, but because at the time when talk of war, intimidation, and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country Iran is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics. I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, a people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.
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Farhadi's speech, as Alyssa Rosenberg notes at ThinkProgress, was not only moving, but brave; some have suggested "that his speech could prevent him from returning to Iran or make life uncomfortable for him when he got back there." A little over a year ago, his fellow Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi was given a six-year prison sentence for "creating anti-regime propaganda." He was also banned from filmmaking for 20 years, though his defiant This Is Not a Film premiered at Cannes after his sentence was handed down.

Meanwhile, American politicians have thrown their own political dust on the country, engaging in saber-rattling regarding Iran throughout the GOP primaries. Farhadi's speech was an eloquent rebuke to talk of war on both sides. You can watch it below (his remarks begin just after the two-minute mark).

Dan Kois, Troy Patterson and Dana Stevens will be on Slate’s Facebook page at 11 a.m. EST today to chat with readers about last night’s Oscar ceremony.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

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