Foreign language Oscar nominees decry
'climate of fanaticism in US'
Catherine Shoard, theguardian.com
Last modified on Sunday 26 February 2017
All six directors up for this year’s prize – including Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who is boycotting the ceremony – have issued a statement blaming ‘leading politicians’ for inciting fear and bigotry across the world.
The six directors in the running for this year’s foreign language Oscar have issued a joint statement blaming “leading politicians” for the fear they feel is creating “divisive walls”.
|Australia's first-ever Oscar nomination in the best foreign-language film race at the Oscar 2017.|
The statement, which was issued on Friday, comes ahead of Sunday’s Academy Awards, which are tipped to be the most political in recent memory, with winners and presenters expected to speak out against the new US administration.
|This image released by Sony Pictures Classics shows Sandra Huller as Ines, left, and and Peter Simonischek as Winfried in a scene from the Komplizen Film, "Toni Erdmann." The film is nominated for an Oscar for best foreign language film. The 89th Academy Awards will take place on Feb. 26, 2017.(Photo: Komplizen Film, AP)|
In their letter, the six condemn “the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the US and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians”.
The statement is signed by Asghar Farhadi, the director of Iran’s The Salesman, Martin Zandvliet, director of Denmark’s Land of Mine, Hannes Holm, director of Sweden’s A Man Called Ove, Maren Ade, director of Germany’s Toni Erdmann and Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, joint directors of Australia’s Tanna.
|Asghar Farhadi with his Oscar for A Separation in 2012. Photograph: Jason Merritt/Getty Images|
Farhadi, who became the first Iranian to win an Oscar in 2012 for his film A Separation, has already said he will boycott the ceremony in protest against Donald Trump’s attempts to enforce a travel ban which would exclude from the US people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
A free screening of Farhadi’s film, The Salesman, will take place in Trafalgar Square in London on Sunday, introduced by the capital’s mayor Sadiq Khan. It is now considered favourite to take the Oscar, with many Academy members believed keen to express their own disapproval of Donald Trump’s measures through a protest vote.
|A Man Called Ove is nominated for Foreign Language Film for Oscars 2017. This is the fifteenth Academy Award nomination for Sweden.|
Until earlier this year, Germany’s Toni Erdmann – a father/daughter comedy which is being remade in the US with Jack Nicholson and Kristen Wiig – had been tipped for the win.
|It may be set immediately after the Second World War, but Danish Oscar nominee Land Of Mine feels like required viewing in the current climate.|
The statement continued: “The fear generated by dividing us into genders, colours, 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.”
|Director Asghar Farhadi at the Paris premiere of his Oscars contender, The Salesman. Photograph: Michel Euler/AP|
Regardless of who wins, wrote the directors, “[w]e believe there is no best country, best gender, best religion or best colour. We want this award to stand as a symbol of unity between nations and the freedom of the arts.”
The 89th Academy Awards take place in Los Angeles on Sunday, 26. february 2017.
The complete statement:
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.