As Oscars Pile Up, Iranian Film Grows Up

TEHRAN — As the veteran American director took the stage at Iran’s Fajr International Film Festival, the audience stood up, clapping and cheering.

Young men wearing round sunglasses and women with purple dyed hair peeking out from under their compulsory headscarves watched as scenes from “Platoon,” “Midnight Express,” “JFK” and “Any Given Sunday” appeared on the screen. The clip ended with the introduction of the guest of honor: ‘‘American writer and director, Oliver Stone.’’

“You make it seem as if I’m dead already,” Mr. Stone, 71, joked. Typically, Iranian hard-liners try to prevent prominent Americans, even harsh critics of United States policies like Mr. Stone, from obtaining visas. But in his case other forces had prevailed. Iranian politics are divided by those opposing any approach to America and those who feel there should be an outreach.

As Oscars Pile Up, Iranian Film Grows Up
As Oscars Pile Up, Iranian Film Grows Up

Now, the American was the guest of honor at an event that, like Iranian society, has undergone major changes in recent years. Established to celebrate the anniversary of the Islamic revolution, the festival has grown more independent, riding a wave of international prizes for Iranian films, including two recent Oscars.

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