TEHRAN — Iranian-British director Hassan Nazer’s Persian-language drama “Winners” has been shortlisted by the British Academy as the UK’s submission for the International Feature Film Prize at the 2023 Oscars.
Supported by Scottish public body Creative Scotland, the film was shot entirely in Iran with an all-Persian-speaking cast, including Reza Naji, winner of the Berlinale’s Silver Bear for “The Song of the Sparrows”.
Speaking to ISNA’s Persian service on Thursday, Naji said, “The director of ‘Winners’ is an Iranian who lives abroad; his film seems to be able to communicate with an audience of all languages.
Set in a poor Iranian village, the story of “Winners” is about children working hard to support their families. Their little hands scour huge piles of bric-a-brac in search of hidden treasures. One day, nine-year-old Yahya and her friend Leila find a precious golden statue. Sharing a passion for movies, Yahya’s boss, Nasser Khan, decides to help them find the owner as the curious object takes Yahya on an adventure-filled journey that doubles as a loving ode to history. Iranian cinema.
The film won the Audience Award at this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival in Scotland.
In his acceptance speech, Nazer said, “Winning the People’s Choice Award at EIFF means everything to me. I’ve been working on it since I decided to become a filmmaker. I make films for the public and I will continue to do so.
He added: “It’s good to be part of an ethnic minority living in Scotland where your outlook is a mix of your background and your new home. My goal is always to connect my cultures and celebrate diversity through cinema. I am very grateful that our work has been recognized by Screen Scotland and EIFF.
Nazer is also the director of “Utopia,” which was selected as the Afghan entry for best foreign language film at the 2015 Oscars and one of the qualifying films for the 73rd Golden Globes.
Photo: A scene from “Winners” by Hassan Nazer.