Even as world headlines from the Middle East focus on upheaval and violence, the region's culture continues to thrive. Here's our look at some groups and individuals making their mark on arts and culture in the region, in no particular order.
Asghar Farhadi, Iran
Already known in critics circles for his film, About Elly, director Asghar Farhadi blazed onto the world cinema stage this year with his drama A Separation, nabbing Iran's first Oscar win. Political tensions between Iran and the United States and other nations melted away as the intense film, which grapples with class, choices and consequences, gripped viewers far from Farhadi's homeland.