President Trump’s original travel ban arguably helped Asghar Farhadi’s “The Salesman” win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film in February, but don’t expect his newly announced ban to have much effect on the current awards race.
That’s because most of the countries on the new list don’t have significant film industries and rarely, if ever, participate in the awards contest. The two that do participate and have announced Oscar entries this year, Iran and Venezuela, are not considered among the top contenders at the moment.
Last year, Iran submitted “The Salesman,” which had screened in Cannes and was from the acclaimed director whose 2011 drama “A Separation” had given the country its only Academy Award. (The Oscar for foreign-language film officially goes to the submitting country, not the filmmaker.)
When Trump’s ban on travel into the United States from a number of predominantly Muslim countries was initially announced, Farhadi said that they would not attend the ceremony — and even when the ban was overturned by the courts, the director opted to stay away in protest.
The ban helped make Farhadi and his film a cause celebre in the weeks leading up to the Oscars — and in a year that found his film in a tight race with “Toni Erdmann” and “A Man Called Ove,” it may well have been enough to tip the scales and give Iran its second Oscar out of 22 Academy Awards submissions.
But this year’s Iranian submission, Narges Abyar’s “Breath,” doesn’t have nearly the profile that “The Salesman” had. Dealing with the daydreams of a young girl during the Iranian Revolution of the 1970s, its exposure has come at smaller festivals including the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival and the Fajr Film Festival.
Venezuela, meanwhile, has submitted 27 films to the Academy over the years, with 2014’s “The Liberator” making the shortlist but falling short of a nomination. None of the other submissions made it that far.
This year’s Venezuelan submission is Ignacio Castillo Cottin’s “El Inca,” the true story of a professional boxer who was arrested on suspicion of killing his wife. Again, it is not one of the top contenders in a foreign-language race that also includes Sweden’s “The Square,” Germany’s “In the Fade,” Israel’s “Foxtrot,” Cambodia’s “First They Killed My Father” and Russia’s “Loveless.”
Among the other countries in Trump’s new travel ban, Chad has submitted films to the Oscars twice, once in 2002 and once in 2013, without being nominated or shortlisted. Yemen submitted for the first time last year but did not make the shortlist.
Syria, Libya and Somalia have never participated in the race.