In one of the most politically charged moments of the night, an Iranian director who refused to attend the latest Academy Awards to protest President Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigration from seven countries — including his own — won the award for Best Foreign-Language Film of 2017.
Asghar Farhadi, who made headlines with his announcement to skip the ceremony, received his second Academy Award for his film “The Salesman.” However, since he was boycotting the event in solidarity with immigrants and refugees and could not be there, he had Iranian-American engineer Anousheh Ansari accept the award on his behalf.
In case you were wondering who she is:
“It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for the second time. I would like to thank the members of the Academy, my crew in Iran, my producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy, Cohen Media, Amazon and my fellow nominees in the foreign film category,” Ansari read Farhadi’s statement aloud. “I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. 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.”
The director then touched on how this xenophobic ban is dividing the world into two categories: “us” and “our enemies.” Along with creating fear, it also provides a “deceitful justification for aggression and war.”
“These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression,” Ansari continued amid cheers and applause. “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.”
It was a fierce and moving speech, and even though Farhadi was not able to deliver it himself, Ansari did an amazing job conveying his message.
The support on social media was tremendous:
Asghar Farhadi missed accepting an Oscar to make an important point. And I support him. #Oscars— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) February 27, 2017
Asghar Farhadi boycotted the Oscar because of Trump’s travel ban. Just won best foreign language film.— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) February 27, 2017
Asghar Farhadi. Just won his second #Oscar. He's such a threat right? Iranian filmmaker— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) February 27, 2017
Iranian Asghar Farhadi's win for THE SALESMAN is a massive fuck you to @RealDonaldTrump.— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) February 27, 2017
Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian who wasn't allowed to enter, wins best foreign film. Two middle fingers to Trump. #Oscars— Sreshth Shah (@sreshthx) February 27, 2017
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Gary Hershorn