“The Salesman” took home the Oscar Sunday night for best foreign language film as its director stayed home in protest of President Trump’s travel ban.
Director Asghar Farhadi announced he wouldn’t attend the 89th Academy Awards last month, days after President Trump signed an executive order that temporarily barred immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including the director’s homeland of Iran. The order was blocked by a federal court.
On Sunday night, astronaut Anousheh Ansari and former NASA scientist Firouz Naderi accepted the award on Farhadi’s behalf in a moving speech that garnered applause.
“I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight,” Ansari said, speaking for Farhadi. “My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhuman law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.”
“Dividing the world into the us and our enemies categories creates fear,” she continued. “A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression.”
Ansari concluded: “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. Thank you on behalf of Mr. Farhadi.”
Backstage at the awards show, Naderi explained why he and Ansari were tapped to accept the award.”She’s an astronaut. She has gone to the space station. I work for NASA,” he explained. “I think the reason is that if you go away from the Earth and look back at the Earth you don’t see any of the borders, any of the lines. You just see one whole beautiful Earth.”
In a January statement to The New York Times, Farhadi announced that he had chosen not to attend the Academy Awards. Instead, he said he wanted to “express my condemnation of the unjust conditions” surrounding the banned countries.
“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.”
This is Farhadi’s second Oscar win. He previously took home a trophy for his 2011 drama, “A Separation.”