Two-time Oscar nominee Asghar Farhadi, who wrote and directed The Salesman, Iran’s entry for best foreign-language film, announced Sunday he would not attend the Academy Awards next month even if he were granted an exception to President Trump’s visa ban for citizens from Iran.
In a statement released by Farhadi’s representative Fredell Pogodin on Sunday, Farhadi said he had hoped to attend the awards and express his opinions. “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 …”
Instead, via the statement, Farhadi expressed what he says he would have said to the news media if he made the trip to the Oscars:
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.
He went on to condemn the “unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries,” and expressed “hope that the current situation will not give rise to further divide between nations.”
In a statement to USA TODAY on Saturday, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts Sciences said, “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.”
Farhadi became the first Iranian to win an Oscar, for his 2011 film, A Separation.
On Thursday, Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti, star of the The Salesman, tweeted she would boycott the Oscars — whether allowed to attend or not — in protest of Trump’s immigration policies, which she called “racist.”