Iranian director Asghar Farhadi used his absence from the Oscars stage on Sunday (26Feb17) to take a stand against Donald Trump's "inhumane" immigration law after winning the Best Foreign Language Film honour.
The moviemaker chose to sit out Hollywood's big night to stand in solidarity with his countrymen and women and those of the six other Muslim-majority nations U.S. President Trump had tried to ban from entering America.
The law was put on hold by a federal judge earlier this month (Feb17), just days after Trump signed the executive action and prompted a slew of protests across the country.
While Farhadi chose not to attend the prizegiving in person, he made use of his tickets and sent two notable Iranian-Americans in his place - Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian and first Muslim to go into space, and NASA employee Firouz Naderi.
And when The Salesman was named the winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, Ansari took the stage to read out a message of defiance from Farhadi, who previously earned the same award in 2012 for A Separation.
"It's a great honour to be receiving this award for the second time," his speech began. "I'm sorry I'm not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of the other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S."
He continued, "Dividing the world into the 'us' and 'our enemies' categories creates fear. A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracies and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression.
"Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others, an emphathy we need today more than ever."
Farhadi wasn't the only one to hit out at Trump's divisive immigration policies onstage at the Dolby Theatre - guest presenter Gael Garcia Bernal expressed his opposition to the politician's plans to build a large wall on the U.S./Mexico border to keep illegal immigrants out as he presented the nominees for Best Animated Feature Film.
"Flesh and blood actors are migrant workers," he stated. "We travel all over the world. We build families, we construct stories, we build life that cannot be divided.
"As a Mexican, as a Latin American, as a migrant worker, as a human being, I'm against any form of wall that wants to separate us."
Zootopia was named Best Animated Feature Film and co-director Rich Moore also used his speech to make a pointed remark about Trump and his immigration legislation.
Underlining the message of Zootopia, he declared, "Tolerance is more powerful than the fear of the other."