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Oscar foreign directors not daunted by kid actors

The director of "A Separation" dished that the biggest diva on the set of his Oscar-nominated film was none other than his daughter.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The director of "A Separation" dished that the biggest diva on the set of his Oscar-nominated film was none other than his daughter.

Asghar Farhadi joked during a panel discussion with directors vying for the foreign-language film Oscar at Sunday's 84th annual Academy Awards that his daughter, Sarina Farhadi, who plays an estranged Iranian couple's 11-year-old child, was the most difficult person to work with on the film, which is also up for the original screenplay Oscar.

"When I was working with other actors or actresses, out of the respect that they had for me, they would still agree with what I asked them to do, even if they weren't convinced, but this was not the case with my daughter," said Farhadi through a translator on stage at the motion-picture academy's headquarters Saturday morning.

Farhadi revealed that he doesn't completely explain the plots of his movies to child actors because "the less the kids know, they do better." That wasn't the case with "A Separation," which is considered the front-runner for the foreign-language Oscar. Farhadi said his daughter was intimately involved with the story even before he finished the script.

Sarina might be Farhadi's lucky charm. "A Separation" has already racked up several honors this awards season, winning a Golden Globe, Cesar Award, Guldbagge Award and Independent Spirit Award, as well dominating at film festivals and appearing on the top ten lists of many critics.

Farhadi's "A Separation" from Iran will face Michael R. Roskam's crime drama "Bullhead" from Belgium, Philippe Falardeau's immigrant substitute teacher tale "Monsieur Lazhar" from Canada, Joseph Cedar's Talmudic scholar saga "Footnote" from Israel and Agnieszka Holland's World War II drama "In Darkness" from Poland for the foreign-language Oscar at Sunday's ceremony.

Holland had very different demands for the children in her film, which is based on the true story of Polish petty criminal Leopold Socha who hid Jews from Nazis during World War II. She needed Milla Bankowicz and Oliwer Stanczak, a pair of child actors portraying young Jews living in the sewage canals of Lviv, to be comfortable in a dark, gritty setting filled with rats.

"My biggest fear was that they would be afraid of them," said Holland. "They'd been dreaming about meeting the rats, and they played with them like pets, exactly as the real children, Krystyna and Pavel, did."




AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang will be inside the Academy Awards on Sunday. Follow him on Twitter at