Due to the recent executive order banning Muslims and refugees from entering the country, several contributors to this year’s Oscar nominee list will be absent for the award ceremony. Among them are Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, Director of Salesman, the Cinematographer of the documentary The White Helmets, Khaled Khateeb, and Raed Saleh, the leader of the group the documentary is about. The order naturally affects vastly larger numbers of people than these three Oscar absentees. But it is a reflection of what’s happening everywhere. From refugees escaping near death, to prestigious Oscar nominated Directors, the ban is indiscriminately and unappealingly final.
On not quite the final day of the first month of the year, it is a mixture of inspiring and deeply troubling to see works like Watani: My Homeland, The White Helmets, and Salesman nominated, and the creators of these same inspiring works banned from setting foot in the country. Asghar Farhadi is a respected Director, Khaled Khateeb a talented cinematographer, and Raed Saleh the leader of a volunteer group constantly risking their lives as first responders in a war zone. It is hard to imagine what good could possibly come from a bad blindly excluding these people and thousands of others like them, and how it will affect the art world, and the world in general.
Still, not all news in Hollywood is glum. True to nature, people push back. In the midst of this conflict, Salesman is booming financially, and Actor Kal Penn has already raised more than $200,000 to help Syrian refugees.