It’s high time we stop using terms like we’re “through the looking glass” or in “uncharted waters,” as we’re way beyond unconventional territory, and in the midst of a constitutional crisis of virtually unprecedented levels. These are chaotic, frightening times that are affecting everyone. Even the world of cinema has been impacted.
As you’ve heard by now, cherished Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi (“A Separation,” the severely underrated “The Past”) has been barred entry to the U.S. due to the Trump administration’s overreaching Muslim ban. Already an Oscar winner for “A Separation,” Farhadi’s latest drama, “The Salesman” (our review from Cannes), is also a 2017 nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. Would Farhadi be allowed entrance to the U.S. in time for the Oscars? Perhaps the ban would soften by then? (The administration did move back slightly today on green-card holders).
Today, in a statement released to the press, Farhadi announced that regardless of any visa status exemption he might receive by the Trump administration, he would not attend the Oscar ceremony in protest of the “unjust” Muslim ban.
Here’s Farhadi’s full statement via Slate.
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
The 89th Academy Awards are set for Sunday, February 26, 2017. Farhadi’s “The Salesman” already had a strong shot at the Oscar prize, but given the circumstance and Hollywood’s feeling on Trump and his cabinet, don’t be surprised if the filmmaker’s movie walks away with the trophy, if not for its already-worthy merits, then as a sign of solidarity. It’s likely to be the biggest issue in what is certain to be a very political ceremony this year.