Asghar Farhadi to miss the Oscars

The Salesman director cannot enter the US because he is Muslim.

by Jennie Kermode

Best Foreign Language Film contender The Salesman
Best Foreign Language Film contender The Salesman

One of the world's most celebrated directors, Asghar Farhadi received his third Oscar nomination this year, for drama The Salesman. It has now emerged that he will not be able to attend the ceremony because, as a Muslim who hails from Iran, he s bared from entering the US.

The US ban, which was announced on January 27, extends to Muslims travelling from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia, including refugees. Christians and members of other religious groups from the same countries are free to enter the US. It will last for an initial four months. Several commentators expressed outrage not just at the ban itself but at the insensitivity of announcing a move of this sort on Holocaust Memorial Day. A number of prominent figures in Hollywood, including Jewish actress Mayim Bialik, have stated their intention to join a proposed register of US Muslims if it is introduced, in order to frustrate the aims of the state and show solidarity with people they feel are being treated as their relatives once were.

The Salesman is considered one of the front runners in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Its star, Taraneh Alidoosti, had already announced that she would be boycotting the ceremony in protest at US treatment of Muslims.

Ironically, after winning in the same category with A Separation in 2012, Farhadi returned home to Tehran to discover that his welcoming ceremony had been cancelled by the state because it considered hm to be criticising traditional Iranian values.

"The Academy celebrates achievement in the art of filmmaking, which seeks to transcend borders and speak to audiences around the world, regardless of national, ethnic, or religious differences," said a spokesperson in a statement, noting that the Academy finds the situation "extremely troubling."

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