Ban or no ban, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi will not be attending the 2017 Academy Awards
Ban or no ban, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi will not be attending the 2017 Academy Awards.
Farhadi, whose film The Salesman is up for Best Foreign Language film, made headlines after reports that President Donald Trump‘s controversial executive order restricting immigration could prevent the director from entering the U.S. and attending the award show. The order suspended entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the U.S. for 90 days for nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Farhadi’s native country of Iran.
Farhadi, who is an Iranian national, would have likely have been affected by the 90-day ban if he attempted to enter the U.S. ahead of the Oscars but a White House source previously told PEOPLE that he would qualify for a waiver, although they offered no details on what that would entail or if it applies to other visitors as well.
On Sunday, Farhadi revealed in a statement to the New York Times that he has decided to not attend the ceremony at all.
“I regret to announce via this statement that I have decided to not attend the Academy Awards Ceremony alongside my fellow members of the cinematic community,” he said said,adding that he originally planned to attend the event.
“It now seems that the possibility of this presence is being accompanied by ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip,” he said.
And Farhadi’s message appeared to address Trump’s controversial first week as president.
“Instilling fear in the people is an important tool used to justify extremist and fanatic behavior by narrow-minded individuals,” the 2012 Oscar winner continued in the statement, before ending with this message: “I hereby express my condemnation of the unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries trying to legally enter the United States of America and hope that the current situation will not give rise to further divide between nations.”
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A spokesperson for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which puts on the Oscars, defended their nominee and the Iranian cast and crew and called Trump’s order “extremely troubling.”
“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,” an Academy spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
In his Sunday statement, Farhadi said he knew the Academy and many in the American film community did not support the ban but he still felt that he could not attend the event.
Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti, who stars in The Salesman, announced on Saturday that she was boycotting the Oscars in response to Trump’s ban.
Farhadi isn’t the only Oscar nominee that would be affected by the new ban. Joanna Natasegara, the producer for Oscar-nominated short documentary The White Helmets said that the ban on Syrians entering the country has kept her from brining her two intended guests — Raed Saleh, the leader of the White Helmets, and Khaled Khateeb, the cinematographer.
“They’ve been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize,” Natasegara said in a statement to Variety. “These people are the bravest humanitarians on the planet, and the idea that they could not be able to come with us and enjoy that success is just abhorrent.”