Director Asghar Farhadi’s absence at the Oscars on Sunday spoke almost as loudly as the award itself.
The Iranian filmmaker, who won his second Oscar for The Salesman, did not accept the award in person because he and other members of the film’s cast boycotted the awards following President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
“It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for a second time,” Iranian-American engineer Anousheh Ansari said reading a statement from Farhadi on stage. “I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight, my absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of the other 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,” the statement said. “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 that we need today more than ever.”
The Salesman, an Iranian drama which Amazon Studios is distributing in the U.S., follows the struggles of a couple as they rehearse Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.
Taraneh Alidoosti, one of the film’s stars, was the first to boycott the awards show following Trump’s Muslim ban.
A special screening of the film was held in London on Sunday — hours before the Oscars — as a show of unity and strength against Trump’s travel ban. London mayor Sadiq Khan organized the event with actor and model Lily Cole, producer Kate Wilson and filmmaker Mark Donne.
Many praised the win on Twitter.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also weighed in on the win.
Conservatives in the U.S, however, weren’t as pleased.