2023-09-21 11:44Press release

Milad Alami's Opponent is Sweden’s Academy Award submission

Writer-director Milad Alami (center) with actors Marall Nasiri and Ardalan Esmaili. Photo by Per Perstrand, the Swedish Film InstituteWriter-director Milad Alami (center) with actors Marall Nasiri and Ardalan Esmaili. Photo by Per Perstrand, the Swedish Film Institute

At a press conference in Stockholm today, it was revealed that Milad Alami's film Opponent is Sweden’s submission for the Best International Feature Film Academy Award.

In the aftermath of a devastating rumour, Iman and his family have been forced to flee Iran. As refugees, they end up in a run-down hotel in northern Sweden. Despite feeling powerless, Iman tries to maintain his role as the family patriarch. To increase their chances of asylum, he breaks a promise to his wife and joins the local wrestling club. As the rumours start to resurface, Iman’s fear and desperation begin to take a hold.

Opponent – which had its world premiere at the Berlinale earlier this year, and has been screened at more than 30 festivals – stars American-Iranian actor Payman Maadi, with Ardalan Esmaili, Björn Elgerd and Arvin Kananian in the supporting cast. Actress Marall Nasiri was awarded the Special Jury Prize at the Seattle Film Festival for her portrayal of Maryam, Iman's wife.

– We are very proud and honoured to be the Swedish submission to the Oscars this year! I am personally extra proud of our fantastic actors and our team, says writer-director  Milad Alami.

– Milad Alami's film contains so much of what constitutes a strong drama portrayed on film. The personal fate, the current political themes, the placement of the story in a context that makes these become so much clearer. This paired with excellent acting and stylish and effective storytelling makes Opponent a very worthy Oscar candidate, says Petter Mattsson, head of the International Department at the Swedish Film Institute and chairman of the Swedish Oscar Committee.

Opponent is Alami's follow-up to San Sebastian and Palm Springs winner The Charmer (2017), which also starred Ardalan Esmaili. The film is produced by Tangy / Annika Rogell, in co-production with Filmpool Nord, Film i Väst, Sveriges Television and Ape & Bjørn (Norway), with support from Film i Västerbotten and the Swedish Film Institute, former Film Commissioner Madeleine Ekman. Opponent had its domestic theatrical premiere on 31 March, distributed by TriArt Film. International sales by IndieSales.

About the selection

Each year the Swedish Oscar Committee nominates a Swedish candidate for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film. Swedish films that have had their domestic premiere between 1 December 2022 and 31 October 2023, and meet the requirements of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), have been eligible for the 2024 Oscars.

For this year’s shortlist, Paradise is Burning (directed by Mika Gustafson) and Together 99 (directed by Lukas Moodysson) were also chosen by the committee.

Members of the Swedish Oscar Committee:

Jonas Holmberg, Göteborg International Film Festival
Cicci Renström Suurna
, The Swedish Film Critics Association
Carl Javér, The Swedish Union for Performing Arts and Film – Directors
Agneta Fagerström-Olsson, The Swedish Union for Performing Arts and Film – Directors
Sara de Costa, The Swedish Film and Television Cooperation Committee
Anna Anthony, The Swedish Film & TV Producers Association
Stefan Baron, The Swedish Film & TV Producers Association
Nanna Blondell, actress and director, appointed by the Swedish Film Institute

Chairman: Petter Mattsson, Head of the International Department at the Swedish Film Institute.

For more information, please contact Theo Tsappos, Festival Manager: theo.tsappos@filminstitutet.se

About The Swedish Film Institute

The Swedish Film Institute is a collective voice for film in Sweden, and a meeting-place for experiences and insights that elevate film on all levels. We preserve and make available Sweden’s film heritage, work to educate children and young people in film and moving images, support the production, distribution and screening of valuable film, and represent Swedish film internationally. A broad diversity of narratives establishes discussions and insights that strengthen the individual and our democracy. Together, we enable more people to create, experience and be enriched by film.


Jan Göransson
Head of Press
Jan Göransson
Per Perstrand
Communications Officer – Press
Per Perstrand