Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi said Sunday he will not attend next month's Academy Awards ceremony, comparing US President Donald Trump's visa ban on seven Muslim countries to the actions of hardliners in his own country.
Farhadi, nominated for best foreign language film for “The Salesman”, said in a statement released to AFP by his representatives in Los Angeles he had initially planned to attend the ceremony, but had been forced to change his mind.
Trump signed an executive order on Friday prohibiting entry to the United States to all nationals of seven Muslim-majority states — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
“I 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,” 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.”
He said hardliners in United States and Iran acted with the same mentality.
“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,” he aid.
“Instilling fear in the people is an important tool used to justify extremist and fanatic behaviour by narrow-minded individuals.”
His lead actress, Taraneh Alidoosti, had already announced that she would boycott the annual awards ceremony in Los Angeles over Trump’s “racist” visa ban.
Farhadi won the best foreign language Oscar in 2012 for his film “A Separation”.
The subjects of “The White Helmets,” an Oscar-nominated documentary about the volunteers who rescue victims of attacks in Syria, will also be unable to attend, it emerged later Sunday.
“We have always said that if we were to be nominated, we would bring Raed Saleh, the head of the White Helmets, who has spoken many times in (Washington) DC, and Khaled Khateeb, the young cinematographer who risked his life over and over again, as our guests,” producer Joanna Natasegara said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly.
“They’ve been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize — these people are the bravest humanitarians on the planet, and the idea that they could not be able to come with us and enjoy that success is just abhorrent.”
The White Helmets say on their website that their unarmed rescuers have saved more than 78,500 lives in Syria.
They were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize last year, although the award went to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos
“The White Helmets” is nominated for best documentary short at the Academy Awards on February 26.