In the 2017 Oscar race, politics have informed several Oscar categories, most notably Best Foreign Language Film.
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who won an Oscar in 2012 for “A Separation” and whose second Oscar-nominated film, “The Salesman” (Cohen Media), is playing on more than 65 screens and has passed the $1 million mark, grabbed a lot of press when he canceled his plans to attend the February 26th Oscars ceremony following Trump’s Muslim travel ban for visitors from seven countries, including Iran. (Farhadi’s full statement is here.) He is currently the favorite to win the Oscar.
Before and just after the Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon on February 6, Farhadi communicated with his four fellow foreign directors — Maren Ade of “Toni Erdmann,” Hannes Holm of “A Man Called Ove,” Martin Zandvliet of “Land of Mine” and Bentley Dean and Martin Butler of “Tanna.” They talked about how to make some kind of united response to the U.S. actions.
Here is their collective statement, released simultaneously with Farhadi’s beamed-in participation with a protest rally outside the United Talent Agency in Beverly Hills :
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).