Iran’s “The Salesman” took home the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, as expected, but director Asghar Farhadi decided to avoid the long trip from Tehran to Los Angeles. Not out of disrespect to the academy, but because he felt disrespected by the new administration.
Farhadi decided to boycott the ceremony after President Donald Trump instituted his travel ban, barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, from traveling to the United States. Iranian-American engineer Anousheh Ansari accepted the award on Farhadi’s behalf and read a statement from the director.
“It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for the second time,” Farhadi said in the statement.
“I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight,” he continued. “My absence is out of respect for the 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.”
Farhadi blasted the divisiveness he said is at the core of laws like the travel ban.
“Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear,” he said in the statement. “A deceitful justification for aggression and war.”
Farhadi also mentioned the ability of filmmakers to “break stereotypes” by using their cameras to capture “shared human qualities.”
“They create empathy between us and others,” he said. “An empathy which we need today more than ever.”