Asghar Farhadi is becoming one of the most acclaimed filmmakers of his generation. At the 89th Oscars ceremony celebrated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood, Farhadi was awarded his second Oscar in the category of Best Foreign Language Film for the Iranian movie The Salesman.
Farhadi, however, was consciously not present to accept the Oscar statuette. He did not travel to the United States; he chose to stay home in Iran and instead wrote a message that was read on stage by Anousheh Ansari, a very successful Persian-American businesswoman.
— Omid Memarian (@Omid_M) February 27, 2017
The director’s decision to not travel to the U.S. was made as part of a protest against President Donald Trump and his failied Executive Order that enacted travel restrictions on people from seven nations that are predominantly Muslim.
As Ansari read Farhadi’s acceptance speech in his absence, many of the Hollywood stars in attendance nodded in approval. Farhadi may have been able to travel since Trump’s travel ban has been struck down by American courts; nonetheless, entering the U.S. is currently very difficult for Middle Eastern travelers. Syrian filmmaker Khaled Khateeb, for example, was also awarded an Oscar but was denied entry due to strange visa complications.
Farhadi’s words against Trump were resolute and well-written as they described the actions of the current American administration as justifications for aggression and armed conflict. Farhadi also wrote about empathy, which is a theme commonly explored in his films. In essence, Farhadi’s speech warned against the dangers of attempting to divide the world, something that the Trump administration and its clumsy attempts at governance seem to be doing.
The Best Foreign Language Film directed by Farhadi is the intriguing story about a man and a woman who share an apartment previously occupied by a mysterious tenant. Farhadi has been deeply censored by the Islamic Republic of Iran; however, he continues to ply his cinematic trade in defiance.