Asghar Farhadi and the Muslim Ban

On Friday, January 27th, the President signed the “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” indefinitely suspending admissions for Syrian refugees and temporarily banning ANY entry into the United States from what his administration has deemed “terror-prone countries.” This means that anybody from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, or Somalia cannot enter the United States for 90 days, or until each country has faced what his administration called “extreme vetting.”

This aggressive, even unconstitutional measure will undoubtedly affect and ultimately put at risk the lives of countless people both here and abroad. Our government has vilified millions based on blanket assumption, but we do not have to stand for that.

If you are able, you can support the organizations that are fighting for Muslim rights both here and abroad:

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – they have already filed a lawsuit against the President’s administration, citing the unconstitutional aspects of the Executive Order. They will continue to fight for the rights of all who are unjustly oppressed, and you can donate here.

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – Rallies are being held across the nation to protest the Muslim ban, so check with your local chapter to see when and where you can attend (for Boston residents, additional information on the 1/29 rally can be found here).

The White Helmets – the namesake for the Syrian Civil Defense force, the boots on the ground working to protect civilians in Syria. Check out the Oscar-nominated Documentary Short, The White Helmets, on Netflix, and consider donating here.

Among those affected by this order is Asghar Farhadi, an Iranian director whose latest effort, The Salesman, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film earlier this week. It has been confirmed that Farhadi will not be allowed to enter the United States for the awards ceremony.

This is not the first time Farhadi has been nominated for this prestigious award. In 2012, he won the award for Best Foreign Language film for A Separation. His acceptance speech can be seen here.

Given what took place on Friday, Farhadi’s acceptance speech has become all the more important. He simply wants to spread the widely misunderstood, complex, and fascinating culture of Iran to a wider audience, to spread the idea that the Iranian people, “respect all cultures and civilizations, and despise hostility and resentment,” but continues to face nearly insurmountable headwinds as the actions of the few have labelled his country “terror-prone.”

Iranian cinema has been one of the great discoveries for me in my endless consumption of movies, and has given me insight into a nation that deserves a deeper look. Although Farhadi may not be able to attend the Academy Awards, we can show him and the people of Iran that we want to hear them, we want to know more about their culture, we want them around.

The Salesman is in very limited release in theaters in select cities right now, and will likely spread to a wider audience in the coming weeks either in theaters or through various Video On Demand services. I ask you to please consider seeking this movie out – by supporting this movie, you are supporting Iranian cinema as a whole, and can ensure that Farhadi and his contemporaries can continue to share their culture with the world. Doing so will hopefully alter the assumptions of many.

Apart from The Salesman, you can find Farhadi’s About Elly on Netflix, and A Separation available to rent on most streaming platforms. Additionally, you can seek out the work of one of my favorite directors, the late Abbas Kiarostami, whom I will likely showcase in the future, as well as Jafar Panahi, whose This Is Not A Film was produced while he was on house arrest and banned from producing any films, then smuggled out of Iran in a birthday cake to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

In theaters now, you can catch Golshifteh Farahani, an Iranian born woman who had previously starred in Farhadi’s About Elly, as the lovably fickle wife to Adam Driver in Paterson, the new film from Jim Jarmusch.


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