Read the Joint Statement from the Foreign-Language Oscar Nominees
Let their voices be heard! This is important. We try to keep politics out of the discussion here on FS, but this statement deserves our undivided attention. And I stand by and support all of these filmmakers and their message. Just in time for the Academy Awards this weekend, the filmmakers behind the five nominated Best Foreign-Language Films have released a joint statement. The statement condemns the ridiculous Muslim Travel Ban in America and allows them to express their sympathetic feelings towards human rights and a desire to support all people no matter where they're from or the color of their skin or what religion they choose to follow. It makes it even more powerful that all of these filmmakers came together to say this.
Here is the official statement (found via The Film Stage) released and signed by all five of the Best Foreign-Language Film nominees at the 89th Academy Awards. Take a moment to read everything they have to say:
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.
Martin Zandvliet – Land Of Mine (Denmark)
Hannes Holm – A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
Asghar Farhadi – The Salesman (Iran)
Maren Ade – Toni Erdmann (Germany)
Martin Butler, Bentley Dean – Tanna (Australia)
Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi (seen in the teaser photo above when he won the Oscar in 2012 for A Separation) is the centerpoint of the discussion this year. Farhadi announced that, due to the travel ban, he has chosen not to attend this year's ceremony (he'll be represented by two prominent Iranian Americans involved in space travel instead). Farhadi's film, The Salesman, is an outstanding film - read my review from Cannes - and may end up winning the Oscar anyway. Sadly, there's also news (via AP) that Khaled Khateeb, cinematographer for the Oscar-nominated short The White Helmets, has been denied entry into the US to attend the Oscars. This is wrong, and just makes me sad to hear. Which is why this message is so important.
In times like this, it's vital to bring even more attention to art and artists who are resisting any way they can. Using microphones, cameras, paint, pens and paper, they show us what really matters, and how we can join them in the fight for peace and prosperity. No matter who wins, we must support these artists and their art.