Posts Tagged culture

Movie Review – “A Separation” (Iranian Film)



A Separation and possible divorce of Iranian couple Nader and Simin (married for 14 years) are at the heart of this movie. After months of trying and waiting, they got the visa to leave the country and migrate to the West and Simin wants to leave to give her daughter Termeh, a better future.  Nader however, is deeply occupied in carrying for his father who has Alzheimer’s disease and does not want to leave.  While this is a central theme around which the movie revolves, there are other dramas on the side that are equally engaging and give a deep insight into the cultural, class, and moral ethos of the Iranian society and yet other poignant situations show how similar human challenges are all over the world.  For instance, Razieh a deeply religious woman, retained by Nader to care for his father, calls the religious hotline to ask if it would not be a sin for her to clean Nader’s father who becomes incontinent.  On the other hand, the pull and sadness and turmoil that Termeh goes through being caught in the middle of her warring parents is identical to any teenager experiencing very similar feelings, upon encountering similar situation, almost anywhere in the world.


Razieh is pregnant, commutes long distance to take care of Nader’s father, and is soon overwhelmed caring for the old man with Alzheimer’s disease.  One day she ties his hand to the bed post and leaves for a visit to her doctor.  Nader returns home with his daughter and finds his father lying on the floor unconscious.  He is enraged and when Razieh returns, he accuses of her having stolen the money that also finds missing, and refuses to pay her, and asks her to leave.  She insists on clearing her name and insists on her payment and Nader shoves her out of the apartment. She falls and then hurries out.  Later, she looses her child and there is court drama where Nadar is accused of killing the unborn child and Nader accuses Razieh of neglecting his father and Razieh’s hot headed husband makes threats against Nadar and his family.  Upon insistence of his wife, Nader offers to pay blood money and drop the feud, at which point Razieh refuses to take the money saying that just the previous day before Nader shoved her out of the building, his father had wandered off from home and as she went looking for him and as she ran to keep him from being run over by cars, a car had bumped into her.  She feared that her miscarriage might be the result of her being hit by the car and if she accepted the money than Almighty’ wrath would fall upon her and her family.  This enraged her husband who owes money to creditors and will likely be jailed.  Nader and Simin leave them and then go to proceed with their divorce.  The movie ends with the judge drawing the separation papers and then asking Termeh to choose the parent she would like to live with.


This was an intense movie with much food for thought.  Almost anyone can relate to how much the teenager is torn between her parents.  It seems while she might prefer to live with her mother, she feels they would never get together again, unless she continues to live with her father.  We can also relate to how Nader is sandwiched between caring for his father and caring for his daughter and taking care of the home, after his wife leaves.  Razieh and her husband, on the other hand, are struggling with poverty and perhaps even wrongly accused of theft and of looking to make free money out of their tragedy.  I loved the movie.  It is beautifully made, avoids exaggerations, and in the end, one feels nothing but compassion for each and every character caught in the middle of life’s many challenges and constraints.  The movie won 84th Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, becoming the first Iranian film to win the award and received Best Film, Best Actress, and Best Actor award at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival and also won Golden Bear and 69th Golden Globe Awards for the Best Foreign Language Film.

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Challenges and tips for expanding business in China by Matt Levy at, February 14, 2012

Matt Levy, President,, discussed challenges and shared some insights and strategies for expanding business in China. China represents a huge manufacturing market for US multi-national corporations. China represents $14 Billion of medical device market and is expected to expand to $50 Billion by 2020.  Levy shared his 5-step commercialization plan as outlined below.

Step one should focus on customer centric, as opposed to product-centric strategy.  The company should have a US presence in the market, have the resources to establish the necessary infrastructure in China, have filed patent and trademark in China, have an international brand recognition, and have knowledge and expertise to do business in china or know where to seek help, prior to expanding the business in China.

Step two should focus on market research from secondary and primary sources, including expert interviews with current customers, distributors, KOLs, competitive overview of international and local competitors, delineate sustainable competitive advantage, and plan a visit to China.  A visit to China will accelerate the learning process tremendously, said Levy.

Levy proposed that step three is focused on developing a plan which should includes two elements, operation plan and marketing plan.  Operational plan should begin with selecting a proper entity, whether it is a rep office, a joint venture, or a wholly owned foreign entity.  Each of these have pros and cons which should be carefully considered.  Next step would be to establish US logistics including accounting, shipping, order processing and legal elements.  That should follow with establishing China logistics including office location, administrative aspects, organizational structure, field service and technical support elements, and recruitment of staff.  Levy shared insights on each of these aspects.  The operational plan should also include defining financial investment based on advice from local market expert.   The marketing plan should include product elements like patent filings, supplier sources, software aspects and manuals.  Distribution elements of the marketing plan should include consideration regarding whether it is through direct sales, or national or regional and/or hybrid distributors.  “Don’t ever sign a long-term exclusivity agreement with a distributor”, cautioned, Levy.  Finally, the brand building aspect of the marketing plan should include aspects regarding market segmentation, translating collateral, event planning, and customer identification.  And finally, the pricing strategy should be considered carefully.

Step four would focus on market execution with focus on brand building.  Chinese product name and key marketing message should be carefully selected followed by sales training and collateral development.  Early adapters and KOLs should be identified and marketing communication plan should be developed.

Finally, step five is about renewing and refining which should be based upon communication from customers, distributors, complete review of China’s growth metrices, it’s evolving compliance policy, and due consideration for high growth environment that is constantly evolving in dynamic China.

Levy discussed further details including considering cultural differences, regulatory climate, and IP protection.  Culturally, there is a lot of corruption ingrained in China and he advised not be naïve about it.  There is also lot of corner cutting which could be an issue for clinical trails, regulatory approval etc. later on.  Also the negotiation style is different, where frequently signing of a contract often signals the beginning of negotiation, rather than an end.  Work ethic, social norms, management style etc. are all practiced differently inChina, compared to theUS.  Regulatory climate is constantly evolving.  IP protection is an issue that should be carefully considered because enforcement does not widely exist. On the other hand, companies can loose IP, even without entering China, said Levy.

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