Iranian director Asghar Farhadi spoke out against President Trump's travel ban in a poignant statement ready by Anousheh Ansari after the filmmaker won Best Foreign Language Film for The Salesman at the 2017 Academy Awards.
Farhadi announced that he would not attend this year's ceremony in protest of the ban, which prohibited immigrants and travelers from seven countries, including Iran, from entering the United States. While the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals later halted the executive order, the Trump administration has vowed to replace it with a similar order soon.
In his statement, Farhadi said: "I'm sorry I'm not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country, and those of [the] other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S. 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."
The Salesman marks Farhadi's second Oscar, having won Best Foreign Language Film in 2012 for A Separation. The Salesman tells the story of a couple in Tehran whose relationship begins to fall apart while they star in a local production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.
In his review of The Salesman, Rolling Stone's Peter Travers wrote: "If you know Farhadi's work – and if you don't, search out About Elly, A Separation and The Past — you know you're in the hands of a major film artist. He is not one to underline the meaning of his films. He throws audiences into the thick of things and leaves us to parse its meaning. It's a compliment Hollywood films rarely afford us."