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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Oscar-nominated foreign film directors pen joint letter denouncing “fanaticism”

Asghar Farhadi (Photo: Greg Doherty/Getty)
Asghar Farhadi (Photo: Greg Doherty/Getty)

The directors of the five movies nominated for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film at tomorrow’s Oscars—Maren Ade, Martin Zandvliet, Hannes Holm, Martin Butler, Bentley Dean, and Asghar Farhadi—have signed a joint statement expressing their opposition to nationalism and fanaticism, especially among “leading politicians.” As reported by Rolling Stone, the six directors released the statement last night, calling for “this award to stand as a symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts.”


Farhadi has been at the center of a great deal of controversy in recent weeks, ever since Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries potentially blocked him from attending the ceremony in honor of his film The Salesman. (The ban has since been struck down by the courts, but Farhadi has still declined to attend, instead sending a pair of Iranian space explorers in his place.) Meanwhile, it was announced earlier today that a Syrian cinematographer, whose work was featured in the Best Documentary Short nominee The White Helmets, had been barred from entering the country by the Department Of Homeland Security.

You can read the directors’ full statement below:

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.

Martin Zandvliet—Land Of Mine ( Denmark )

Hannes Holm—A Man Called Ove ( Sweden )

Asghar Farhadi—The Salesman ( Iran )

Maren Ade—Toni Erdmann ( Germany )

Martin Butler, Bentley Dean—Tanna ( Australia )