It seems like there will be quite a few empty seats at this year's Academy Awards. Late last week, actress Taraneh Alidoosti claimed that she would be protesting the Oscars in light of President Trump's recent Muslim Ban. It didn't take long for the harsh realities to hit Asghar Farhadi's R.S.V.P. card as well. While The Salesman director (up for Best Foreign Film this year) claimed to have wanted to attend, the Muslim Ban is preventing him from even stepping into the country. Considering that this came on the same day as the notorious Muslim Ban that left many hostages at the John F. Kennedy Airport, it makes sense why he won't be able to show up. However, it's also a sign of what's likely to be a very political Oscars ceremony.
To summarize, there is currently a ban from Muslims entering the country with threats of even green card-carrying immigrants facing potential deportation. Thankfully, there are plenty of procedures currently happening with hope of turning over this asinine law. Even then, many have come out in protest. Still, the chances of the Oscar-winning director behind A Separation being able to attend the ceremony have been increasingly slim since January 20, 2017. He doesn't claim to protest the ceremony because of problems with Hollywood, but the President of the United States. In a rejection letter, he claims that:
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. I believe that the root cause of many of the hostilities among nations in the world today must be searched for in their reciprocal humiliation carried out in its past and no doubt the current humiliation of other nations are the seeds of tomorrow’s hostilities. To humiliate one nation with the pretext of guarding the security of another is not a new phenomenon in history and has always laid the groundwork for the creation of future divide and enmity. 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 in general showed compassion and regret for not being able to attend. However, it makes sense why The Salesman will not be present at the ceremony. His absence in particular does suggest the dark side of what could potentially come if these laws of limiting immigrants happens. Many of the world's best directors won't want to work with America, and the import of quality films will likely suffer to mind-numbing degrees. It does see likely that more will protest this year not because of the nominees excluding racial diversity, but because of the president taking up the mantle in diabolical ways, not even acknowledging how regressive and damaging his actions are.
The one upside is that The Salesman has had a great weekend at the box office, in part because of this news. The film had the best per screen average with $23,690 per screen with $71,071 at the box office. It is likely only to rise now that there's support from a political standpoint. Still, it's disappointing to see that the Oscars will be impacted by such hateful and regressive laws. One can only imagine now that The Salesman will win so that a political message can be made and can be heard worldwide. While it's impossible to not hear soapbox speeches at the ceremony, it does seem like even Hollywood's night to shine will be facing a lot of points to be made over three hours. This is only the tip of the iceberg. Here's hoping that things get better before then.