Oscar Foreign Film Nominees Denounce ‘Climate of Fanaticism and Nationalism’ in US

Five directors issue a joint statement vowing to dedicate award to people working to “uphold freedom of expression and human dignity”

Last Updated: February 24, 2017 @ 4:15 PM

The five nominated directors of this year’s Oscars Best Foreign Language Film denounced the current “climate of fanaticism and nationalism” in the United States in a joint statement on Friday.

“On behalf of all nominees, we would like to express our unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians,” said Martin Zandvliet (“Land of Mine,” Denmark), Hannes Holm (“A Man Called Ove,” Sweden), Asghar Farhadi (“The Salesman,” Iran), Maren Ade (“Toni Erdmann,” Germany) and Martin Butler & Bentley Dean (“Tanna,” Australia) in a statement.

The directors wrote about the “fear generated by dividing us into genders, colors, religions and sexualities as a means to justify violence destroys the things that we depend on.”

They believe that movies can help in a time like this and that it can “offer such deep insight into other people’s circumstances and transform feelings of unfamiliarity into curiosity, empathy and compassion — even for those we have been told are our enemies.”

Because of this, the five directors vow to dedicate the award, no matter who wins, to the people in the country who seek to find “unity” and uphold freedom of expression and “human dignity.” After all, they believe that there is no such thing as best country or best gender or best color — instead, they want the award for Best Foreign Language film to be a symbol that unifies the nations around the world and the freedom of the arts.

Farhadi declared last month that he would boycott the Oscars in response to Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban, which would suspend the admission of refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries for 120 days as well as visa holders for 90 days. At the time, it was reported that Farhadi might be affected by this ban, but he followed up by saying that even if he was granted permission to attend the Oscars, he wouldn’t.

On Feb. 9, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals court upheld the suspension of Trump’s travel ban. In the ruling, the three judge panel stated that the suspension of Trump’s executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries issued by a Seattle judge will not be overturned. The White House has said they will issue a new order next week.

The 89th Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 26, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Read the full statement from the directors below.

On behalf of all nominees, we would like to express our unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians.

The fear generated by dividing us into genders, colors, religions and sexualities as a means to justify violence destroys the things that we depend on – not only as artists but as humans: the diversity of cultures, the chance to be enriched by something seemingly “foreign” and the belief that human encounters can change us for the better. These divisive walls prevent people from experiencing something simple but fundamental: from discovering that we are all not so different.

So we’ve asked ourselves: What can cinema do? Although we don’t want to overestimate the power of movies, we do believe that no other medium can offer such deep insight into other people’s circumstances and transform feelings of unfamiliarity into curiosity, empathy and compassion – even for those we have been told are our enemies.

Regardless of who wins the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film on Sunday, we refuse to think in terms of borders. We believe there is no best country, best gender, best religion or best color. We want this award to stand as a symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts.

Human rights are not something you have to apply for. They simply exist – for everybody. For this reason, we dedicate this award to all the people, artists, journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understanding, and who uphold freedom of expression and human dignity – values whose protection is now more important than ever. By dedicating the Oscar to them, we wish to express to them our deep respect and solidarity.

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