Oscar-nominated Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose film The Salesman opens Friday in Philadelphia, says he will boycott the Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 26, even if he is allowed to enter the country.
Farhadi’s home nation is one of seven affected by a temporary 90-day immigration ban President Trump put into effect Friday by executive order. The ban, which also affects people traveling from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia, affects individuals seeking any form of entry into the country, including a temporary visa.
When nominated, Farhadi expressed his happiness over the honor in a statement, saying, "What I have strived for in my filmmaking has always been to create a sense of empathy toward my characters. Empathy meaning understanding the conditions and situations of other human beings who very much resemble us."
Previously, Farhadi said he had planned to attend the ceremony and use the platform to voice his opposition to “unjust” policies already adopted by President Trump’s administration. He changed his mind upon hearing of Friday’s executive order, which he said added even more “ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday afternoon bemoaned that Farhadi might be banned from attending the Oscars. “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,” said the Academy.
“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, 45, is known for films that examine relationships in contemporary Iran. His stories are populated by young, well-educated Iranians navigating the demands of marriage. His seventh feature as director, The Salesman, stars frequent Farhadi collaborators Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti as married actors starring in a new stage production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. The film follows the effects, both personal and professional, of a domestic crisis involving the police.
In his statement, Farhadi criticized the actions of “hard-liners” across the world. “Hard-liners, despite their nationalities, political arguments and wars, regard and understand the world in very much the same way,” he said. “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.”
The Trump administration has not released a response to statements either by Farhadi or the Academy.