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Alejandro González Iñárritu discusses immigration reform, power of film in moving speech

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Alejandro González Iñárritu took to the stage as a guest of honor at the LACMA Art + Film Gala on Saturday, giving a speech about the importance of art and cinema in the fight against “xenophobic comments.”

The Revenant director discussed how film allows us to examine our similarities and differences as human beings, saying that cinema “is a bridge between the others and us.”

“Unfortunately, there are currently people proposing we build walls, instead of bridges,” Iñárritu continued. “I must confess that I debated with myself, if I should bring up this uncomfortable subject tonight. But in light of the constant and relentless xenophobic comments that have been expressed recently against my Mexican fellows, it is inevitable.”

While Iñárritu didn’t explicitly refer to Donald Trump, he nodded to the presidential candidate’s controversial comments about undocumented immigrants and his Saturday Night Live hosting stint.

“These sentiments have been widely spread by the media without shame, embraced and cheered by leaders and communities around the U.S.,” Iñárritu said. “The foundation of all this is so outrageous that it can be easily be minimized as an SNL sketch, a mere entertainment, a joke.”

Earlier this week, Iñárritu and almost 70 other Hispanic cultural leaders, including Junot Diaz and Diego Luna, signed a letter criticizing Trump as xenophobic.

“There is no human being who, as a result of desiring to build a better life, should be named or declared illegal, and be dispossessed or considered disposable,” Iñárritu said in his LACMA speech. “I would rather propose to call these people ‘undocumented dreamers,’ as were most of the people who founded this country. By naming them that, we can instead start a real and human conversation for a solution, with the most precious, forgotten, and distinguished emotion a human being can have: Compassion.”

Read Iñárritu’s entire speech here.