Even though a mistake unfolded with the announcing of the winner for Best Picture, the 89th Academy Awards were still an overall success. “La La Land” (2016) took home six Oscars while “Moonlight” (2016) won three and “Hacksaw Ridge” (2016) won two. Emma Stone received her first Oscar for her lead performance in “La La Land” while Casey Affleck’s performance in “Manchester By The Sea” (2016) was awarded with an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role and Viola Davis and Mahershala Ali both took home an Oscar for their supporting performances.
Jimmy Kimmel’s feud with Matt Damon, a surprise visit from a group of tour bus riders, Kimmel lifting up “Lion” (2016) actor Sunny Pawar to the background of “Circle of Life”, and parachutes with candies, cookies and donuts dropping from the Adobe Theatre’s ceiling were the comedic highlights of the evening, but what was not comedic was Iranian film director and writer Asghar Farhadi being unable to accept his Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Farhadi was not able to accept his Oscar for “The Salesman” (2016) because Donald Trump’s ban on immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen entering the United States offended him.
“It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for the second time,” Farhadi said in a statement read by Iranian-American engineer Anousheh Ansari. “I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country who have been disrespected by the inhumane law the bans entry of immigrants to the U.S.”
After pausing for the applause of the attendees, Ansari continued with Farhadi’s statement.
“Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ categories creates fear; a deceitful justification for aggression and war,” Farhadi said in his statement.
This is not the first time that a member of the film industry has refused an Oscar or not attended the ceremony. The most famous example of this act unfolded in 1973 when actor Marlon Brando rejected his Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Vito Corleone in “The Godfather” (1972). Instead, a Native American woman named Sacheen Littlefeather read a statement in front of the attendees.
“I’m representing Marlon Brando this evening and he asked me to tell you that he very regretfully cannot accept this generous award,” Littlefeather said. “And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry-”
Unlike this year’s Oscars, Brando’s refusal to accept his Oscar was immediately met with conflicting boos and claps from the attendees. Littlefeather looked down, begged that her appearance was not an intrusion and said that they would meet with “love and generosity” in the future.
Farhadi’s decision to not attend the 89th Academy Awards could prove to be a massive statement against Trump, his administration and his travel and immigration bans.