Keira Knightley and Dominic West plan anti-Trump protest by screening Iranian Oscars film outside US Embassy

A group of actors and film-makers have requested permission to show the Oscar-nominated The Salesman by director Asghar Farhadi, who will not attend the awards ceremony due to Trump's travel ban on Muslim countries

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Leading film industry figures, including Keira Knightley, Dominic West and Glenn Close, have joined forces to condemn President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban with a plan to screen an Iranian film outside the US Embassy in London on Academy Awards night. 

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Forty-eight actors and film-makers have put their names to a letter to Hugh Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, asking for permission to show The Salesman, the Oscar-nominated film by Asghar Farhadi – an Iranian director affected by the ban – outside the Embassy.

Signed by President Trump on Friday, the travel ban prevents refugees and anyone from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen – from travelling to the United States. 

Other signatories of the protest letter, published in the Guardian, include Ridley Scott, Joshua Oppenheimer, Lily Cole and Jonathan Pryce. 

The Salesman is nominated for best foreign language film at the Oscars, but it remains uncertain whether the Iranian cast and crew can attend the Hollywood ceremony. Farhadi, who won an Oscar for The Separation in 2012, said he would be boycotting the event either way. 

Joanna Natasegara, the producer of the Oscar-nominated documentary The White Helmets, also signed the letter. She had intended to bring the leader of Syria Civil Defence group the White Helmets and the cinematographer as her guests to the ceremony, but because of Trump’s ban they will no longer be able to attend.

In the letter, the leading industry figures emphasise that Trump’s ban has been condemned by all major international human rights institutions, including the United Nations and Amnesty international. It adds that “as one (individual but highly symbolic) consequence” of the ban, Farhadi would no longer be allowed to enter the US.

The letter continues: “As an open expression of peaceful civic protest at this critical time, we wish to screen Mr Farhadi’s film in Grosvenor Square; directly opposite the United States embassy building. We believe it is our duty as members of the film-making community, in a city renowned for its values of tolerance, compassion and multiculturalism to make an important public expression of protest to the United States government that will resonate nationally and globally.

“We wish to hold an event in solidarity with Mr Farhadi himself, but crucially, with the many thousands of innocent people who will now be negatively impacted and harmed by a policy of outright discrimination such as this.”

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Actor Keira Knightley

Mark Donne, the director of film The UK Gold who organised the letter, told the Guardian: “Millions of people across the world want to do anything within their sphere of influence to resist the repellant, discriminatory executive order issued by Donald Trump. We’re no different.

“As a community of actors, producers and directors we’ve chosen to show solidarity with Asghar Farhadi, both as an artist within the film medium but also as an Iranian, one of seven Muslim-majority nationalities that Trump has decided to ban from the US, along with the most desperate people on the planet: refugees.

“By showing Mr Farhadi’s film we’d like to create an expression of solidarity with Mr Farhadi and all those harmed by this madness, and to present a peaceful, civic protest that is highly visible to both the US government and our own.”

Over the weekend, the Oscars organisers called Trump’s immigration ban and the impact of this on Farhadi’s entry to the US “extremely troubling”.

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If the screening gets the green light, The Salesman will show in Grosvenor Square on 26th February.