The weekend that Trump rolled out his Muslim ban was filled with news of collateral damage, including the fact that 2017 Oscar nominee Asghar Farhadi would fall victim to that order should he make the trip. The White House offered an exception for the director of The Salesman, but Farhadi has chosen to sit out this year’s Academy Awards in protest, and to shine a light on all of those who wouldn’t benefit from such largesse. Farhadi isn’t alone in his efforts—Deadline reports that UTA, the talent agency that represents him, has canceled its Oscars party. UTA has decided instead to hold a pro-immigration rally at its Los Angeles headquarters on February 24 at 3 p.m. PT.
The rally, dubbed “United Voices,” is intended to counter the anti-immigrant sentiment that inspired and has been inspired by Trump’s travel ban, which bars entry to visitors from 7 predominantly Muslim countries. The agency, which is also donating $250,000 to the ACLU, said that it has witnessed “the current controversy firsthand through the experiences of Academy Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, a UTA client. Although nominated for an Oscar again this year in the best foreign language film category for The Salesman, Farhadi has announced he will forgo the trip to the United States for the ceremony due, in his words, to ’the unjust circumstances’ of the proposed U.S. travel ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries.” When Farhadi learned of UTA’s show of support, he responded by saying he was “honored and in tears.”
In a letter he sent to employees, UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer wrote “This is a moment that demands our generosity, awareness and restlessness. Our world is a better place for the free exchange of artists, ideas and creative expression. If our nation ceases to be the place where artists the world over can come to express themselves freely, then we cease, in my opinion, to be America.” UTA has also set up an accompanying CrowdRise fundraising campaign, for those who’d like to donate and/or cannot attend the rally.