Asghar Farhadi's film, The Salesman, is up for an Oscar this year, but the Iranian director will not be in attendance.
Farhadi tells The New York Times that he had planned on attending the Academy Awards on Feb. 26, but changed his mind after President Donald Trump declared a visa ban for citizens from Iran and several other predominantly Muslim countries. "It now seems that the possibility of this presence is being accompanied by ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip," he says, further explaining why he's skipping the Oscars.
Since he will not be attending the awards ceremony, Farhadi instead shares a statement, expressing how he feels about the immigration ban, which he refers to as an "us and them mentality."
"For years on both sides of the ocean, groups of hardliners have tried to present to their people unrealistic and fearful images of various nations and cultures in order to turn their differences into disagreements, their disagreements into enmities and their enmities into fears," he says. "Instilling fear in the people is an important tool used to justify extremist and fanatic behavior by narrow-minded individuals."
Farhadi continues, "However, I believe that the similarities among the human beings on this earth and its various lands, and among its cultures and its faiths, far outweigh their differences."
The director concludes, "I hereby express my condemnation of the unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries trying to legally enter the United States of America and hope that the current situation will not give rise to further divide between nations."
Farhadi is not the first in Hollywood to speak out about the immigration ban. John Legend took the stage at the Producers Guild Awards on Saturday night to declare that his "vision of America is directly antithetical to that of President Trump."
"Our president is doing some things in our name that I think don’t represent the values of America," Legend told ET. "I want to speak out for what I believe."