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Asghar Farhadi Says He Has Decided Not to Attend the Oscars

Variety logo Variety 1/29/2017 Nick Vivarelli

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Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose film “A Salesman” is nominated for the foreign film Oscar, has issued a statement saying he will not attend the Oscars even if exceptions are made to allow him entry to the U.S.

“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,” read his statement, which was first published in the New York Times.

While he had originally considered attending, “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,” the director said.

“To humiliate one nation with the pretext of guarding the security of another is not a new phenomenon in history and has always laid the groundwork for the creation of future divide and enmity. 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,” his statement, signed Asghar Farhadi, Iran, concluded.

In the initial portion of his statement Farhadi underlined that in the past few days “despite the unjust circumstances which have risen for the immigrants and travelers of several countries to the United States,” his “decision had remained the same: to attend this ceremony and to express my opinions about these circumstances in the press surrounding the event.”

Farhadi said he “neither had the intention to not attend nor did I want to boycott the event as a show of objection, for I know that many in the American film industry and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are opposed to the fanaticism and extremism which are today taking place more than ever.”

An Academy spokesperson issued a statement Saturday describing as “extremely troubling” the prospect that Farhadi, along with the cast and crew of  “The Salesman,” “could be barred from entering the country because of their religion or country of origin.”

“Just as I had stated to my distributor in the United States on the day the nominees were announced, that I would be attending this ceremony along with my cinematographer, I continued to believe that I would be present at this great cultural event,” Farhadi said.

“However, 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.”

“I would therefore like to convey via this statement what I would have expressed to the press were I to travel to the United States. Hard-liners, despite their nationalities, political arguments and wars, regard and understand the world in very much the same way. 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,” he went on to explain.

“This is not just limited to the United States; in my country hardliners are the same. For years on both sides of the ocean, groups of hardliners have tried to present to their people unrealistic and fearful images of various nations and cultures in order to turn their differences into disagreements, their disagreements into enmities and their enmities into fears. Instilling fear in the people is an important tool used to justify extremist and fanatic behavior by narrow-minded individuals,” Farhadi added.

Related Content  Academy Blasts Trump’s Travel Ban That Could Keep Iranian Filmmaker From Attending 2017 Oscars

Trump signed the executive order on Friday afternoon to suspend entry of refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, and imposed an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria. A 90-day ban was also placed on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Taraneh Alidoosti, the star of Farhadi’s film “The Salesman” had previously spoken up on Twitter Thursday morning after Trump proposed the ban, to announce that she “won’t attend the #AcademyAwards 2017 in protest.”

Farhadi’s film “A Separation” won an Academy Award for best foreign film in 2012. “The Salesman” — the title a reference to Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” — tells the story of a young couple who play the lead roles in the play. It is nominated in the foreign film category.

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