As expected, Asghar Farhadi was not in the Dolby Theatre when his drama The Salesman won Best Foreign Language Film, having declared that he would not attend the Oscar ceremony due to Donald Trump’s immigration ban. Iranian-American Anousheh Ansari, the first Muslim woman to travel to space, took the stage on his behalf alongside Firouz Nader to share words the director had prepared. “I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight,” the statement read. “My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.”
While condemning Trump’s policy, Farhadi also called for filmmakers to make work that elicits “empathy” between cultures. He said: “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.”
You can watch the speech below.
In 2012, Farhadi’s A Separation won the same award.