The Iranian director of the film The Salesman addressed a London protest against President Donald Trump‘s travel ban just hours before the movie won Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards on Sunday.
Addressing a crowd of about 10,000 via a video link from Tehran, Asghar Farhadi told protestors, “I am extremely happy that the scattered reactions from people and art communities across the globe shown to the oppressive travel ban of immigrants has developed into a powerful and unified movement,” according to The Guardian.
“This solidarity is off to a great start. I hope this movement will continue and spread for it has within itself the power to stand up to fascism, be victorious in the face of extremism and say no to oppressive political powers everywhere,” he added. “We are all citizens of the world and I will endeavor to protect and spread this unity.”
The protest, which also included a screening of The Salesman in London’s Trafalgar Square, was in response to Trump’s travel ban, which aimed to block arrivals from seven countries: Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and his home country of Iran.
The screening was reportedly organized by London mayor Sadiq Khan, along with Lily Cole, producer Kate Wilson and film-maker Mark Donne, and was meant to coincide with the Oscars, as well as to “celebrate the capital’s success as a creative hub and beacon for openness and diversity,” according to The Guardian.
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“President Trump can’t silence me,” Khan told protestors, according to the news site. “As I look around Trafalgar Square, I am proud and you should be proud, too, because here today we have men and women, old and young, rich and poor, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists … we have people from all around the world and the key message we send to the world is London is open.
“We stand in solidarity with Asghar Farhadi. We stand in solidarity with all those who are discriminated against because of their nationality, faith or background. We don’t just tolerate difference. We respect it, we celebrate it, and we embrace it.”
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Farhadi is not the only foreign filmmaker affected by the travel ban. A Syrian cinematographer who worked on the Academy Award-nominated documentary The White Helmets was barred by immigration authorities from entering the U.S.
According to the Associated Press, the Department of Homeland Security has blocked Khaled Khateeb from entering the country, citing “derogatory information” about the filmmaker. Having previously been granted a visa to attend Sunday’s ceremony, where his film is nominated for Best Documentary Short, Khateeb was detained by Turkish authorities and told he needed a waiver from the U.S. to make it into the country, something he didn’t receive, according to the AP.
The Academy Awards kicks off live on ABC on Sunday, with a 7 p.m. ET pre-show and 8:30 p.m. ceremony. See all the Oscar nominees and get your own ballot here.