If movie fans thought they could watch the Oscars Sunday night without being reminded of the divisiveness of progressive politics, they thought wrong. Five foreign-language film nominees issued a declaration Friday in advance of Sunday's show condemning "the climate of fanaticism and nationalism" in the U.S. and other countries, and dedicating the Oscar in their category to "those working toward unity."
Asghar Farhadi, who wrote and directed "The Salesman," Iran's entry in the foreign-film category, joined with other directors — Martin Zandvliet, "Land of Mine" (Denmark); Hannes Holm, "A Man Called Ove" (Sweden); Maren Ade, "Toni Erdmann" (Germany) and Marin Butler and Bentley Dean, "Tanna" (Australia) — to issue Friday's statement that closed with a plea for all to respect human rights.
USA Today reports:
They directors symbolically rejected the borders that define their category's nominees, saying, "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."
Farhadi said in January he would not attend the Oscars, even if he were granted special dispensation to, in defiance of President Donald Trump's travel ban barring entry into the United States for travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations.
Trump is not overtly named in the statement, but the directors make reference to a climate of "fanaticism and nationalism" that they see "among leading politicians."
"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 statement read.
The statement could be a sign of political overtones to come in Sunday night's show. In January, actress Meryl Streep used the podium at the Golden Globes to trash Trump and sporting events she considered less than artistic. The Screen Actors Guild Awards show also got political later that month when David Harbor of Netflix's "Stranger Things" issued a fiery invective aimed at Trump without mentioning him by name.