On Sunday, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who won an Oscar in 2012 for “A Separation” and whose second Oscar-nominated film “The Salesman” is playing well to arthouse moviegoers, told the The New York Times that he has canceled his plans to attend the Oscars ceremony February 26. He cited President Donald Trump’s 90-day visa ban for citizens from seven Muslim countries including Iran; the order also imposed a 120-day blockage for Muslim refugees, with an indefinite ban on all refugees from Syria.
Farhadi was planning to attend the Academy Awards with his cinematographer, but Friday’s executive order offered “ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip … I hereby express my condemnation of the unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries trying to legally enter the United States of America and hope that the current situation will not give rise to further divide between nations.”
Farhadi’s full statement is below:
I regret to announce via this statement that I have decided to not attend the Academy Awards Ceremony alongside my fellow members of the cinematic community.
Over the course of the past few days and despite the unjust circumstances which have risen for the immigrants and travelers of several countries to the United States, my decision had remained the same: to attend this ceremony and to express my opinions about these circumstances in the press surrounding the event. I neither had the intention to not attend nor did I want to boycott the event as a show of objection, for I know that many in the American film industry and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are opposed to the fanaticism and extremism which are today taking place more than ever. Just as I had stated to my distributor in the United States on the day the nominees were announced, that I would be attending this ceremony along with my cinematographer, I continued to believe that I would be present at this great cultural event.
However, it now seems that the possibility of this presence is being accompanied by ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip. I would therefore like to convey via this statement what I would have expressed to the press were I to travel to the United States. Hard-liners, despite their nationalities, political arguments and wars, regard and understand the world in very much the same way. In order to understand the world, they have no choice but to regard it via an “us and them” mentality, which they use to create a fearful image of “them” and inflict fear in the people of their own countries.
This is not just limited to the United States; in my country hardliners are the same. For years on both sides of the ocean, groups of hardliners have tried to present to their people unrealistic and fearful images of various nations and cultures in order to turn their differences into disagreements, their disagreements into enmities and their enmities into fears. Instilling fear in the people is an important tool used to justify extremist and fanatic behavior by narrow-minded individuals.
However, I believe that the similarities among the human beings on this earth and its various lands, and among its cultures and its faiths, far outweigh their differences. I believe that the root cause of many of the hostilities among nations in the world today must be searched for in their reciprocal humiliation carried out in its past and no doubt the current humiliation of other nations are the seeds of tomorrow’s hostilities. To humiliate one nation with the pretext of guarding the security of another is not a new phenomenon in history and has always laid the groundwork for the creation of future divide and enmity. I hereby express my condemnation of the unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries trying to legally enter the United States of America and hope that the current situation will not give rise to further divide between nations.
Asghar Farhadi, Iran
This past week Taraneh Alidoosti, Iranian star of the “The Salesman,” tweeted in protest of the new policy, writing that “Trump’s visa ban for Iranians is racist” and that she would not be attending the Oscars.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued the following statement, via a spokesperson:
“The Academy celebrates achievement in the art of filmmaking, which seeks to transcend borders and speak to audiences around the world, regardless of national, ethnic, or religious differences. As supporters of filmmakers—and the human rights of all people—around the globe, we find it extremely troubling that Asghar Farhadi, the director of the Oscar-winning film from Iran A Separation, along with the cast and crew of this year’s Oscar-nominated film The Salesman, could be barred from entering the country because of their religion or country of origin.”
Iraq filmmaker Hussein Hassan also withdrew his US visa application for clearance to attend the North American premiere of his film “The Dark Wind” at the Miami Film Festival.
“This is just a deeply upsetting turn of events,” festival director Jaie Laplante told IndieWire in an interview. “We got an email from his producer on Tuesday saying there were all these unusual delays. He has applied for visas in the past at the U.S. consulate and received an answer in two days.”
Mehmet Aktas, the producer of the film, also added: “Now it seems to be impossible for a Kurdish artist to visit the US to present his work. As an act of peaceful protest, Hussein Hassan decided to withdraw from his visa application. We as Kurdish filmmakers hope that Donald Trump will acknowledge the Kurdish people.”
In 2012 “A Separation” became the first Iranian movie to with the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In his moving acceptance speech, Farhadi said:
“At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us, and I imagine them to be very happy. They are happy not only because of an important award or a film or a filmmaker, but because at this time of talk of war and intimidation and aggression exchanged between politicians, the name of their country Iran, which is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and Asian culture that has been hidden under the heavy dose of politics, I proudly offer this hour to the people of my country, a people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.”