Filmmaker Asghar Farhadi declined his invite to the Academy Awards this year after President Trump announced his ban on Muslims from six countries, including Farhadi’s homeland of Iran.
Farhadi won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for The Salesman, and Iranian-American engineer and first astronaut of Iranian descent Anousheh Ansari delivered his speech in absentia:
I will be reading a statement by Mr. Farhadi.
It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for the second time. I would like to thank the members of the Academy, my crew in Iran, my producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Cohen Media, Amazon, and my fellow nominees in the foreign film category. I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of others of six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.
Dividing the world into the “us” and “our enemies” categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others, an empathy which we need today more than ever.