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American Film Institute Backs Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi, Denounces Trump’s Travel Ban

The American Film Institute has issued a statement of support for Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, who won’t attend the Academy Awards due to President Donald Trump’s executive order barring people hailing from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the country.

Farhadi’s film “The Salesman” is nominated for the foreign-language film Oscar. He issued a statement on Sunday saying he will not attend the Feb. 26 Oscar ceremony, even if exceptions are made to allow him entry to the U.S.

The AFI said in its announcement Tuesday that Farhadi has served as artist-in-residence at the AFI Conservatory for the past two years, adding that his classes had a “profound” impact upon the 250 young men and women who attend AFI from around the world. The institute also said it has an open invitation to Farhadi and hopes he will return in the fall in the same role.

“The AFI Conservatory stands with artists and filmmakers who find the power of creation through freedom of expression and freedom of movement,” the statement said. “We believe any form of censorship — including the restriction of travel — to be against all values we cherish as a community of storytellers. We look forward to welcoming Mr. Farhadi back to AFI in the fall.”

Trump signed the executive order on Jan. 27 to suspend entry of refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, and imposed an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria. A 90-day ban was also placed on citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Farhadi said Sunday that while he had originally considered attending, “The possibility of this presence is being accompanied by ifs and buts, which are in no way acceptable to me, even if exceptions were to be made for my trip,” the director said.

“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,” he said. “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’s film “A Separation” won an Academy Award for best foreign film in 2012. “The Salesman” tells the story of a young couple who play the lead roles in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.”

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