The 89th Academy Awards were filled with many surprises but as previously promised by Oscar winning Asghar Farhadi, he and his cast were not present at the awards out of respect for the nations banned by Donald Trump’s immigration laws.
After being blown away by Viola Davis’ moving speech, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi was announced the winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film for The Salesman.
Unlike the other award recipients, Farhadi and his cast were not present at the awards and their acceptance speech was delivered by Iranian-American businesswoman, Anousheh Ansari, who was the first Iranian to travel in space.
Following her ovation, she read Farhadi’s letter:
I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhuman law that bans entry of immigrants to the US. 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.
This was not the first time a nominee spoke on the issue. A few days prior to the Oscars ceremony, a joint statement was released from the collective of directors of films nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. The directors came together and expressed their concordant disapproval of Donald Trump’s travel bans and the overall political climate in the United States. See the full statement below.