The Iranian director Asghar Farhadi didn’t attend the Academy Awards tonight to accept the Oscar for his film The Salesman, which won in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. He canceled his plans to travel for the ceremony, he has said, because of “the unjust circumstances” created by US president Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from several Muslim-majority countries, including Iran.
Instead, a few hours earlier, he addressed a group of protesters in London via a video link from Iran. The city screened the movie as a celebration of the city’s diversity. “This solidarity is off to a great start,” he told them. “I hope this movement will continue and spread, for it has within itself the power to stand up to fascism, be victorious in the face of extremism and say no to oppressive political powers everywhere.”
For the California awards ceremony, Farhadi sent Anousheh Ansari to accept the award. Ansari, an entrepreneur and the first Iranian and first Muslim woman to travel to space, read from a speech prepared by Farhadi, in which he thanked the Academy before addressing Trump’s travel ban, and the role of filmmakers amidst such discrimination:
“My absence is out of respect for the people of my country, and those of [the] other six countries by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US,” read Ansari, before pausing for applause. “Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear—a deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others—an empathy which we need today more than ever.”
Watch the full statement here: