The six directors nominated for this year’s foreign language Oscar have penned an open letter condemning “fanaticism and nationalism” in America, and the “divisive walls” created by leading politicians.
The statement, published on Friday, was signed by Asghar Farhadi, the director of Iran’s The Salesman, Martin Zandvliet, director of Denmark’s Land of Mine, Hannes Holm, director of Sweden’s A Man Called Ove, Maren Ade, director of Germany’s Toni Erdmann and Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, joint directors of Australia’s Tanna.
Farhadi has already said he will boycott the ceremony in protest against Donald Trump’s attempts to enforce a travel ban affecting people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
A screening of Farhadi’s film, The Salesman, will take place in Trafalgar Square in London on Sunday, introduced by mayor Sadiq Khan. The screening was planned by Keira Knightley and Dominic West, among other film industry figures. It is now tipped to win the Oscar, with many Academy members believed keen to express their own disapproval of Donald Trump’s measures through a protest vote.
“The fear generated by dividing us into genders, colors, religions and sexualities as a means to justify violence destroys the things that we depend on,” said the letter.
Regardless of who wins, wrote the directors, “[w]e believe there is no best country, best gender, best religion or best colour. We want this award to stand as a symbol of unity between nations and the freedom of the arts.”
The letter is just one of many stands from the film industry against Donald Trump’s travel ban – Jodie Foster and Michael J Fox led an anti-Donald Trump protest on Friday. The United Voices rally was staged by Hollywood’s United Talent Agency instead of its usual pre-Oscars party.
The 89th Academy Awards take place in Los Angeles on Sunday 26 February
The full letter:
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 fear generated by dividing us into genders, colors, religions and sexualities as a means to justify violence destroys the things that we depend on – not only as artists but as humans: the diversity of cultures, the chance to be enriched by something seemingly “foreign” and the belief that human encounters can change us for the better. These divisive walls prevent people from experiencing something simple but fundamental: from discovering that we are all not so different.
So we’ve asked ourselves: What can cinema do? Although we don`t want to overestimate the power of movies, we do believe that no other medium can offer such deep insight into other people’s circumstances and transform feelings of unfamiliarity into curiosity, empathy and compassion – even for those we have been told are our enemies.
Regardless of who wins the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film on Sunday, 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.
Human rights are not something you have to apply for. They simply exist – for everybody. For this reason, we dedicate this award to all the people, artists, journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understanding, and who uphold freedom of expression and human dignity – values whose protection is now more important than ever. By dedicating the Oscar to them, we wish to express to them our deep respect and solidarity.