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Oscar-Nominated Iranian Filmmaker Caught Up in American Immigrant Ban

Asghar Farhadi
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

While the Academy Awards may leave a sour taste in the mouths of those who think artists shouldn’t be forced to compete, there’s no denying that an Oscar nomination is still a powerful piece of validation for a lot of filmmakers, especially those from other countries. Filmmakers like Asghar Farhadi  —  whose 2016 film The Salesman will be seen by many Americans due to its Best Foreign Language Film nomination  —  should be able to take this time to engage with audiences about the importance of their work. Instead, Farhadi will have to watch the Academy Awards on television like everyone else.

According to The Playlist, the executive order that President Trump signed on Friday banning immigrants from countries like Iraq and Iran will prevent Farhadi from traveling to the United States in support of his film. As the article notes, Trita Parsi, head of the National Iranian American Council, has confirmed that Farhadi would be affected by the ban:

UPDATE: According to Variety, Farhadi has decided not to attend the Academy Awards even if an exception is made for him. The director describes the immigration ban as another example of a desire to “humiliate one nation with the pretext of guarding the security of another.” He also describes any possible exceptions granted him as being accompanied by “ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable.” You can read Farhadi’s full statement at Variety’s website.

Original story continues below: 

For those unfamiliar with his work, Asghar Farhadi had previously been nominated for an Academy Award thanks to his 2011 screenplay for A Separation, a film about the ramifications of a dissolving marriage in modern-day Iran. In his review of that film, Roger Ebert called it “a useful portrait of Iran today,” noting that the film pushes back on some of the stereotypes surrounding the country generated by “inflamed American political rhetoric.” Farhadi’s most recent film has also received multiple awards and nominations at this past year’s Cannes Film Festival, including a screenwriting award for Farhadi himself.

At a time where fear and misunderstanding seem to be driving a lot of people’s politics, the hardships of one Iranian filmmaker could help open up new avenues of understanding into their culture. Here’s hoping that Asghar Farhadi will put a face to the immigrant ban for many cinephiles who might not otherwise have a personal stake in the policy and help raise awareness for immigrants from every affected country.

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