Mohsen Makhmalbaf's "The Gardener" to Compete for Best Documentary at the 86th Academy Awards

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"The Gardener," an award-winning film of acclaimed Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf is being considered for an Oscar nomination among 150 other eligible films in the Documentary-Feature category. The Gardener has screened in more than twenty film festivals, won two awards and is Makhmalbaf's third film entry to the Academy Awards.

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"An intimate, discursive inquiry into religious belief that opens to include questions about cinema…his camera inching antlike close to the ground and then soaring birdlike over the grounds, he lyrically joins the spiritual with the terrestrial." NY Times

"The Gardener" marks Makhmalbaf’s third entry into the Academy Awards; the other two films include "Gabbeh," Iran’s official entry to the 70th Academy Awards in 1997 and "Sex and Philosophy," Tajikistan's official submission in 2005.

Filmed in Israel/Palestine by an Iranian father-and-son filmmaker, "The Gardener" explores the role of religion in today's world and introduces the Baha’i Faith, whose followers are systematically persecuted in the country of the filmmaker’s birthplace, Iran. The film has been an official selection in over twenty film festivals around the world, including Busan, Rotterdam, Tbilisi, Tokyo, Vancouver and San Paulo int’l film festivals. It has received two awards, one for Best Documentary from Beirut and the Special Maverick Award from Motovun film festivals. The film has played as a Special Presentation at Kosmorama and Jerusalem film festivals where retrospective of Makhmalbaf were held and at Moscow film festival where he served as the head of festival jury.

Makhmalbaf's attendance at the Jerusalem film festival caused much controversy with a group of Iranian intellectuals calling him to boycott the Jerusalem film festival on the basis of a request by the Palestinian civil society while another group supported his attendance and the message of nonviolence he voiced during the festival. Due to the same trip and the making of "The Gardener," a film about a faith whose followers are currently in Iranian prisons, the head of Iranian Cinema Organization asked the Film Museum of Iran to remove Makhmalbaf family’s some 114 awards from the Museum, causing other Filmmakers, such as Asghar Farhadi, to withhold the donation of his Oscars to the museum.

The number of international awards won by Makhmalbaf exceeds forty and includes Best Film awards from Rimini, Karlovy vary and Munich film festivals; Prizes from Locarno, Cannes and the Federico Fellini award from UNESCO. His film "Kandahar" is on TIME magazine’s ‘Best Movies of All Time’; "Gabbeh" on CNN’s ‘Best Asian Films of All Time’ and "A Moment of Innocence" on various 'best films of all time' lists.

"The Gardener" started its US theatrical screenings in New York and Los Angeles in August and has received raving reviews from the critics. New York Times called it "an intimate, discursive inquiry into religious belief that opens to include questions about cinema…" and the New York Film Critics Society selected it as the "Pick of the Week."

In September, the script of "The Gardener" was selected and added to the Core Collection of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences Library in Los Angeles.

Its North American distributors, KDK Factory, qualified and submitted "The Gardener" to the 86th Academy Awards in the Documentary-Feature category. A spokesperson of the distribution company says, "We are very optimistic and hopeful for the film to be nominated, but at the same time just as satisfied with the fact that the documentary branch of the Academy, which compromises of more than two hundred qualified and influential filmmakers will be viewing and learning about a very important human rights subject."

This year, 150 other films will be competing for the Best Documentary-Feature of the Oscars. The Shortlist will be announced in December and final nominees in January 2014.

To request a screening of the film in your city, please visit http://www.thegardenerfilm.com/connect/host/.

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