We're well into the 89th Academy Awards, a night that's been punctuated by Jimmy Kimmel's jabs at President Donald Trump, an "overrated" Meryl Streep, and his long-running "rivalry" with Matt Damon. Viola Davis gave a Best Supporting Actress acceptance speech for her Fences role that was so powerful, much of the internet (and indeed, even Kimmel) agreed it deserved an award of its own. It was a tough act to follow, but the acceptance speech for Best Foreign Language Film has us all giving a yet another standing ovation.
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi snagged his second award in the category for his film The Salesman. However, in solidarity with people from the seven majority-Muslim countries targeted by Trump’s executive order on travel, Farhadi and his cast were notably absent. His absence from the ceremony made good on his commitment to do so, which was previously revealed in an interview with the New York Times. The acceptance speech was delivered by Iranian-American businesswoman Anousheh Ansari, who was the first Iranian to travel in space.
"My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and the other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.," wrote Farhadi, who called the award "a great honor." The letter continued:
I'm sorry I'm not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhuman law that bans entry of immigrants to the US. Dividing the world into the “us" and "our enemies" categories creates fear. A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever.
The message echoes that of a joint statement released just days prior the Oscars ceremony from directors of films nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. Like Farhadi's message, their statement criticized Trump's controversial travel ban and expressed their "unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries."
Watch the speech in full up above.