Asghar Farhadi, the brilliant writer/director of About Elly, The Past, and the Oscar- winning A Separation, will not be able to attend this year’s Academy Award ceremony, where his The Salesman is nominated for Best Foreign Film. It’s not because of a scheduling conflict; it’s because he is from Iran, and our president is an asshole.
The Salesman’s star Tarineh Alidoosti had already announced her intention to skip the ceremony in protest, based solely on early reports of the executive order. But now that the chaotic implementation of the xenophobic, cowardly, illegal (and selective) ban has begun, it’s clear that Alidoosti and her director don’t have a choice in the matter.
In a statement to the New York Times, Farhadi indicates that he had initially intended to attend the Oscars, “to express [his] opinions about these circumstances in the press surrounding the event.” But now, Farhadi says, “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.” But, hailing from an authoritarian regime, he understands:
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. 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.
The cruel irony, of course, is that the most constant theme through Farhadi’s work is empathy – the idea that the everyday interactions in particular and the world in general are much easier to understand if one merely takes a moment to see them through someone else’s eyes. And that’s exactly the kind of radical thinking we would expect from an evil foreign “bad dude,” am I right?
Read Farhadi’s full statement here.