Asghar Farhadi has finally accepted his Academy statuette, more than two months after his 2016 film The Salesman won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
EW has confirmed that Meredith Shea, an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences representative, traveled to the 2017 Cannes Film Festival to present Farhadi and producer Alexandre Mallet-Guy with the accolade for their work on the 2016 film. Farhadi was unable to attend the Oscars in February under President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order barring refugees as well as citizens of several majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States.
The Best Foreign Language Film Oscar is typically not bestowed to an individual, but rather to the country that submits the project for awards consideration; the film’s director (in this case Farhadi) usually takes the honor during the telecast, the Iranian director did not collect his prize alongside the rest of the evening’s victors on stage at the Dolby Theatre.
Accepting the award on behalf of Farhadi was a pair of notable Iranian-American figures: Anousheh Ansari, who is credited as the first woman space tourist, and Firouz Naderi, who previously worked at NASA as a director of solar system exploration. Ansari read a full statement penned by Farhadi: “I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans immigrants from entrance into the U.S. Dividing the world into the ‘us’ and ‘our enemies’ creates fear.”
The Department of Homeland Security additionally blocked Khaled Khateeb — cinematographer for the Oscar-winning documentary short White Helmets — from entering the country, citing “derogatory information” about him as reasoning for the decision.
The Academy, led by president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, issued a statement on the Trump-backed policy shortly before the Academy Awards broadcast.
“The Academy celebrates achievement in the art of filmmaking, which seeks to transcend borders and speak to audiences around the world, regardless of national, ethnic, or religious differences,” the statement read. “As supporters of filmmakers—and the human rights of all people—around the globe, we find it extremely troubling that Asghar Farhadi, the director of the Oscar-winning film from Iran A Separation, along with the cast and crew of this year’s Oscar-nominated film The Salesman, could be barred from entering the country because of their religion or country of origin.”
Prior to The Salesman‘s victory, Farhadi had been nominated for writing the screenplay for the 2011 film A Separation, which also won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. His next project reportedly stars Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem.
The director — who debuted The Salesman in competition at Cannes’ 2016 edition — was at the annual film festival to open the 2017 event alongside French-American star Lily-Rose Depp.