Foreign language Oscar-nominated directors have written against the climate of fanaticism in the United States. Tonight, the 89th Academy Awards will be held to award outstanding performers and directors in their category. Although it is meant to be a night of praise, six foreign language directors decided to bring attention to the cultural climate in the United States.
According to the Guardian, the six directors who signed the joint statement include Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, nominated for his film The Salesman, Martin Zandvliet, director of Denmark’s Land of Mine, Hannes Holm, director of Sweden’s A Man Called Ove, Maren Ade, director of Germany’s Toni Erdmann and Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, joint directors of Australia’s Tanna.
All of the directors who released the statement are nominated for the Academy Award’s “Best Foreign Language Film” category. The Oscar-nominated directors’ statement, which was released on Friday, spoke of their “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.”
“The fear generated by dividing us into genders, colors, religions and sexualities as a means to justify violence destroys the things that we depend on – not only as artists but as humans: the diversity of cultures, the chance to be enriched by something seemingly ‘foreign’ and the belief that human encounters can change us for the better. These divisive walls prevent people from experiencing something simple but fundamental: from discovering that we are all not so different.”
Although the foreign language directors do not mention President Donald Trump by name in their letter, the references to nationalism and “divisive walls” present a correlation to Trump. Trump’s White House has signaled an acceptance for nationalism and “Alt-right” influences such as White House chief strategist and former Breitbart editor Steve Bannon.
The Oscar-nominated directors’ letter also speaks about the divisiveness Trump’s presidency has caused in the United States. As Forbes reported, hate crimes significantly increased after Trump’s election and the president has proposed measures that specifically target refugees, immigrants, and undocumented citizens.
The directors end their letter on a message of unity, writing, “Human rights are not something you have to apply for. They simply exist – for everybody. For this reason, we dedicate this award 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.”
Farhadi, director of Iran’s The Salesman, has already said he will boycott the Academy Award ceremony in opposition of Trump’s policies. During his first month as president, Trump passed a travel ban that targeted seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran. The executive order was eventually overturned in the ninth circuit court, but Trump has vowed to present another ban.
The “Best Foreign Language Film” directors are not the only ones who have addressed the cultural and political climate surrounding the 89th Academy Awards. This year’s ceremony is poised to be one of the most politically charged in recent decades. The nation’s opposition to Trump, actors speaking out against the president, and jokes made by Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel will likely be featured at the awards ceremony.
Meryl Streep is also poised to receive an Oscar, which could mean round two of her brutal rebuke against Trump at the Golden Globes. During her acceptance speech, Streep spoke out against Trump, saying, in part, “But there was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good; there was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh, and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter.”
Considering Trump has a huge media diet and ridiculed Streep for her Golden Globes speech, the president is sure to respond to any perceived slight during the Academy Awards ceremony.
[Featured Image by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images]