Unlike other Iranian films that reach U.S. shores, "A Separation" has been a "huge critical and commercial success in Iran," Akrami of William Paterson University says. It was competing at the box office against a government-supported propaganda film. So a popular campaign sprang up, with some people seeing the film several times to boost the box office and "show their opposition to the regime."
So will it win? Most say yes. But Richard Pena, program director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York City, cautions that there might be a backlash in the voting. He says he thinks it's "very strong and deserves to win" and "it's the right moment."
But there might be members of the Academy who won't vote for it, believing a "yes" vote would mean rewarding Iran's "system, seen as totalitarian and authoritarian," he said. "Or you might have people who think voting for this is a vote for peace, that say art rises above these preoccupations."