Oscar-Winning Iranian Director's Protest Leaves a Lasting Impression Internationally
BY: Julia Jahanpour/Contributing Writer
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi sent prominent Persians, including Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian in space, to accept his Oscar for best foreign-language film on Sunday night. Farhadi’s film, The Salesman, depicts the struggles of a failing marriage in modern Iranian society. The filmmaker asked other Iranians to accept the award on his behalf because he protested Trump’s immigration ban on Iran and six other countries.
Many Iranians feel hatred coming from governments and citizens of other countries that only depict Iran in a negative light. They are all too familiar with the type of news that gets broadcast in countries like America, regarding missile launches, nuclear exploration, and human rights violations.
To have an Iranian man like Farhadi put in the American spotlight for something positive is a huge victory for the people. With the current administration’s view towards Iran, it’s been difficult to shed light on the achievements and acts of progress many Iranians have been making, both in America and their home country. Farhadi, along with other directors, wrote their appreciation for “people, artists, journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understanding.”
The director made the point that without an effort towards uniting the good in every country, there will continue to be hate.
In Iran, cinema is forbidden from questioning the government, and is often heavily criticized for picking at the Islamic State and its practices. Many Iranians feel that their voices are silenced, and that the troubles and struggle of middle class Iranian life is ignored.
Farhadi’s work brings their voices and experiences to the global stage through films that explore the complexities of going through struggles in marriage and life, while dealing with an oppressive government. “Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions,” Farhadi wrote in his acceptance speech.
The directors of all five of the films nominated for best foreign-language film released a joint statement Friday stating: “On behalf of all nominees, we would like to express our unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians.”
The other directors, coming from Sweden, Denmark, Australia, and Germany, spoke on human rights and uniting citizens from every country through art, writing: “We refuse to think in terms of borders. We believe there is no best country, best gender, best religion or best color. We want this award to stand as a symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts.”
Although Farhadi was not present at the Oscar’s ceremony, he made a live video appearance in London just hours before the awards show began. London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, arranged the public outdoor screening of The Salesman with the broadcast from Farhadi to “celebrate the capital’s success as a creative hub and beacon for openness and diversity”.
The screening drew over 10,000 people, who the director addressed, saying “President Trump can’t silence me. As I look around Trafalgar Square, I am proud and you should be proud, too, because here today we have men and women, old and young, rich and poor, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists… we have people from all around the world and the key message we send to the world is London is open”.