Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last week, which given the current state of events doesn’t actually sound too unappealing, you’ll be familiar at this point with President Donald Trump’s new domestic security policy, in which he has barred citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the US for a 90 day period.
Naturally, the overwhelming global response to Trump’s process of ‘extreme vetting’ has been one of outrage, with residents of the UK’s major cities even taking to the streets in a simultaneous protest on Monday 30th January, not only expressing their disdain for the ban and Theresa May’s complicity with the policy following her visit to the US and liaison with Trump, but also uniting in support of Muslims and refugees. Needless to say, the shockwaves felt in the wake of such an act have emanated throughout the globe, with many reporting their feelings of surprise and repulsion at Trump’s commitment to a policy which he put forward in his 2016 presidential campaign; one that few people expected would actually materialise.
The effects of Trump’s attack on members of the Islamic faith have been felt by countless citizens of the seven targeted countries, with many left stranded and unable to return to relatives in the US, or even detained at airports. A creative sphere that has also been affected by the ban is the film world. A notable example is that of Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian director behind the critically-acclaimed 2011 marriage drama, A Separation, whose 2016 film, The Salesman, earned him a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the upcoming 2017 Academy Awards.
Farhadi, who has been working as a successful director and screenwriter since 1997, was born in Iran in 1972, and has received a multitude of award nominations for his work. Under the conditions of Trump’s recently-imposed Muslim ban, the question of whether or not Farhadi will be legally permitted to attend the 89th Oscars ceremony hangs in the balance. Trita Parsi, director of the Iranian American Council confirmed via Twitter that Farhadi would not be allowed to attend the ceremony, but whether or not an exemption will be granted for Farhadi is still unclear.
What is perhaps most ironic and saddening about the possibility that Asghar Farhadi won’t be permitted to enter the US for the Oscars is not only the fact he won’t be able to reap the rewards and recognition he deserves for his contributions to cinema, but also the way in which his films explore the differences between communities, genders and classes in such a nuanced way. At such an uncertain and formidable time for the world, it’s uniting forces we can all take solace in, such as cinema, which ought to be celebrated. President Trump’s actions seek only to drive an even greater division between communities, and Farhadi is one of the many undeserving citizens of these seven Muslim countries who have been affected.