Iranian Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Asghar Farhadi has taken a strong stance against the United States “climate of fanaticism and nationalism.”
Farhadi, who is nominated for best foreign language film for The Salesman, has previously said he will be boycotting Sunday’s Oscars because of U.S. President Donald Trump‘s travel ban.
(The ban, which has since been rejected by a judge, affected travellers and refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations, including Iran.)
Instead, he’s sending two Iranian-American NASA scientists — Firouz Naderi and Anousheh Ansari in his place, his publicist told Variety Friday.
Farhadi — speaking via video conference from Tehran — made some strong comments during a protest hosted by United Talent Agency Friday afternoon. The UTA usually hosts an annual Oscar party, but scrapped it in favour hosting the protest as well as making a donation of US$250,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
“It is comforting to know that at a time when some politicians are trying to promote hate by creating divisions between cultures, religions and nationalities, the cinema community has joined the people in a common show of unity to announce its opposition,” Farhadi said. “I hope this unity will continue and spread to fight other injustices.”
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Farhadi also condemned the new U.S. president’s policies and said they are “trying to promote hate.”
He was speaking on behalf of all the nominees for best foreign language film, who released a joint statement during the rally.
The statement comes as news broke of a cinematographer from Syria who was denied entry to the U.S.
According to internal Trump administration correspondence seen by The Associated Press, the Department of Homeland Security decided at the last minute to block Khaled Khateeb from travelling to Los Angeles for the Oscars.
Khateeb is a 21-year-old Syrian who worked on a harrowing film about his nation’s civil war, The White Helmets, which was nominated for best documentary short.
Celebrities Jodie Foster, Michael J. Fox and Keegan-Michael Key were also among the speakers at Friday’s rally.
Read the full statement from the foreign language filmmakers below:
On behalf of all nominees, we would like to express our unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians.
The fear generated by dividing us into genders, colors, religions and sexualities as a means to justify violence destroys the things that we depend on – not only as artists but as humans: the diversity of cultures, the chance to be enriched by something seemingly “foreign” and the belief that human encounters can change us for the better. These divisive walls prevent people from experiencing something simple but fundamental: from discovering that we are all not so different.
So we’ve asked ourselves: What can cinema do? Although we don’t want to overestimate the power of movies, we do believe that no other medium can offer such deep insight into other people’s circumstances and transform feelings of unfamiliarity into curiosity, empathy and compassion – even for those we have been told are our enemies.
Regardless of who wins the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film on Sunday, we refuse to think in terms of borders. We believe there is no best country, best gender, best religion or best color. We want this award to stand as a symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts.
Human rights are not something you have to apply for. They simply exist – for everybody. For this reason, we dedicate this award to all the people, artists, journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understanding, and who uphold freedom of expression and human dignity – values whose protection is now more important than ever. By dedicating the Oscar to them, we wish to express to them our deep respect and solidarity.
Martin Zandvliet – Land of mine ( Denmark ) Hannes Holm – A Man called Ove ( Sweden ) Asghar Farhadi – The Salesman ( Iran ) Maren Ade – Toni Erdmann ( Germany ) Martin Butler, Bentley Dean – Tanna ( Australia )
With files from Reuters.