Art and Experience: Asghar Farhadi, whose latest drama “The Salesman” is among the five movies nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign-language film category at the 89th Academy Awards, will not attend the Oscars ceremony.
Farhadi said on Sunday that he would not attend the ceremony next month although he does not face a ban to enter the U.S.
Farhadi had planned to attend the Feb. 26 ceremony in Los Angeles, but the executive order signed by President Trump on Friday presented “ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip,” he said in a statement to the New York Times.
In his statement published on Sunday, Farhadi said, “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 that 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 to the press covering 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 that 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, regardless of their nationalities, political arguments and wars, view 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 the 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,” the letter completes.
Trump signed an executive order Friday suspending refugee arrivals and banning entry to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran and Syria.
The Writers Guild of America also released a statement Sunday calling President Trump’s travel ban both “unconstitutional” and “deeply wrong” as well as voicing support for Asghar Farhadi, who has declined his invitation to the Oscar ceremony.
“It is both unconstitutional and deeply wrong to say that you cannot enter our country because of where you were born or what religion you were born into,” said Michael Winship, president of the Writers Guild of America East and Howard A. Rodman, president of Writers Guild of America, in a joint statement.
“The Writers Guilds of America, East and West condemn Donald Trump’s profoundly un-American ‘Muslim ban’, and applaud the federal court’s decision to grant a stay that will keep those being held at American airports from being forcibly returned to their countries. Human rights – including the freedoms of speech and religion – are essential to all Americans and to all who come here to build better lives,” said Winship and Rodman.
“We are especially troubled by reports that Asghar Farhadi, director of ‘The Salesman’, which won Best Screenplay at Cannes and is now nominated for an Oscar, may together with his cast and crew be prevented from entering our country,” Winship and Rodman stated. “From its early days, the entertainment industry has been built by the imagination of immigrants. Our guilds are unions of storytellers who have always welcomed those from other nations, and of varying beliefs, who wish to share their creativity with America. We are grateful to them, we stand with them, we will fight for them.”
Earlier last Thursday, “The Salesman” star, Taraneh Aldoosti, said that she would boycott the Oscars ceremony in protest of Trump’s proposed ban on visas.
“Trump’s visa ban for Iranians is racist,” Alidoosti wrote on her Twitter. “Whether this will include a cultural event or not, I won’t attend the Academy Awards 2017 in protest.”