The U.S. is headed in a bad direction, as are many other countries with xenophobic, science-denying, far-right-wing nutjobs worming their way into power to tear the world apart. Last night was Oscars night, which means there were foreign films up for awards. There were six nominees in all for Best Foreign Film, and all six are concerned about the direction of the world in general, but the U.S. in specific.
To that end, they wrote an absolutely amazing letter condemning the divisions and hatred that Trump and his ilk are normalizing everywhere.
The nominees were Martin Zandvliet (Denmark), for Land of Mine; Hannes Holm (Sweden), for A Man Called Ove; Asghar Farhadi (Iran), for The Salesman; Maren Ade (Germany), for Toni Erdmann; and Martin Butler (Australia), for Bentley Dean-Tanna. They began their letter with:
“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.”
They’re talking about politicians such as He who Lives in the White House right now, pretending he’s a world leader, and all his supporters in Congress and throughout the nation. These six filmmakers see where the far right is trying to divide the world—into genders, colors, religions and sexualities, orientations and identities—and use those divisions to further their campaigns of fear, and yes, violence and hate.
They ask what it is that “cinema can do” here, and they believe the answer is that cinema can provide insight into how different people live and what their lived experiences are. Then they say:
“We believe there is no best country, best gender, best religion or best color. We want this [Oscar] to stand as a symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts.”
While they do say they’re concerned about this fanaticism around the world, they really do seem to be speaking to the U.S. because we’ve accelerated all of this with our acceptance and election of President Asterisk. So the end of their letter is a sword pointed straight at him and his policies:
“We dedicate this [Oscar] to all the people, artists journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understanding, and who uphold freedom of expression and human dignity – values whose protection is now more important than ever. By dedicating the Oscar to them, we wish to express to them our deep respect and solidarity.”
The right loves saying that awards shows shouldn’t be political, and that celebrities need to stick to what they know and stay out of politics. Oh, please. Trump is a threat to the world and to worldwide freedom. Is it really any wonder that foreign artists like these six, especially Farhadi, who hails from one of the countries Trump has tried to ban from the U.S. (and who boycotted the Oscars because of that), would make a point of singling out the U.S. and Donald Trump this way? It’s not.
And things like this need to be spread far and wide. Read the full letter below:
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 27, 2017
Featured image by Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images