Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi Decides Not to Attend Academy Awards

Jimmy Kimmel hosts the 89th Annual Academy Awards, February 26th, 2017 (Image: ABC)

(ABC) — Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose film “The Salesman” is nominated for an Academy Award, has decided not to attend the Los Angeles awards ceremony in February.

Farhadi was the subject of many headlines after President Donald Trump issued a travel ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including the director’s homeland of Iran.

In a statement to the New York Times, the director said he has chosen not to attend the Academy Awards. Instead, he said he wants to “express my condemnation of the unjust conditions” surrounding the banned countries.

“I regret to announce via this statement that I have decided to not attend the Academy Awards Ceremony alongside my fellow members of the cinematic community,” Farhadi’s statement began.

The director said initially he planned to “attend this ceremony and to express my opinions about these circumstances in the press surrounding the event” with his cinematographer Hossein Jafarian.

“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 continued. “I would therefore like to convey via this statement what I would have expressed to the press were I to travel to the United States.”

“Hard-liners, despite their nationalities, political arguments and wars, regard and understand the world in very much the same way,” Farhadi said. “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.”

Farhadi acknowledged that “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 director concluded his statement by saying “To humiliate one nation with the pretext of guarding the security of another is not a new phenomenon in history and has always laid the groundwork for the creation of future divide and enmity.”

“I hereby express my condemnation of the unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries trying to legally enter the United States of America and hope that the current situation will not give rise to further divide between nations,” he said.

A spokesperson for The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences addressed Farhadi in a statement Saturday.

“It is extremely troubling,” the spokesperson said. “The Academy celebrates achievement in the art of filmmaking, which seeks to transcend borders and speak to audiences around the world, regardless of national, ethnic, or religious differences.”

The statement continues, “As supporters of filmmakers — and the human rights of all people — around the globe, we find it extremely troubling that Asghar Farhadi, the director of the Oscar-winning film from Iran, ‘A Separation,’ along with the cast and crew of this year’s Oscar-nominated film ‘The Salesman,’ could be barred from entering the country because of their religion or country of origin.”

ABC News reached out to Farhadi repeatedly this weekend, but did not receive word back. A request for comment from the U.S. distributor of “The Salesman,” Amazon Studios, also went unanswered.

Trump’s move on Friday called for the immediate suspension of immigration from seven countries with alleged ties to terror, including Iran. The ban is for 90 days and the president has said it’s part of a vetting plan to prevent “radical Islamic terrorists” from reaching American soil.

“The Salesman” stars Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti as a couple who gets cast in a local rendition of Arthur Miller’s 1949 stage play “Death of a Salesman.”

Alidoosti, 33, also announced that she would protest the Academy Awards because of the ban.

“Trump’s visa ban for Iranians is racist,” she tweeted Friday. “Whether this will include a cultural event or not, I won’t attend the #AcademyAwards 2017 in protest.”=

During his acceptance speech the following year, the director described Iran as a “rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.”

The director also described Iranians as “a people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.”

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