Farhadi had every intention of attending the Oscars but now he'll be watching from afar. According to a statement released on Sunday, in the aftermath of the so-called "muslim ban" ordered by the Trump administration, the director said, "It now seems that the possibility of [attending] is being accompanied by ifs and buts, which are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip."
He went on to condemn the "us and them mentality" both in the United States and in Iran, and added that "on both sides of the ocean, groups of hardliners have tried to present to their people unrealistic and fearful images of various nations and cultures in order to turn their differences into disagreements, their disagreements into enmities and their enmities into fears. Instilling fear in the people is an important tool used to justify extremist and fanatic behavior by narrow-minded individuals."
If ever there was a guy who needed to spread his message back to Iran from the high-powered signal of the Oscar stage, it's this talented artist. But like many from his part of the world, even those who have been granted visas to continue their studies or regroup with their families, he'd be subject to being detained upon arrival -- and that's assuming his high-profile status could supersede the executive order. That's hardly a given with travel from Iran and elsewhere in such chaos right now.
In Farhardi's About Elly, when things get really topsy-turvy, the vacationers band together to help strategize a search-and-recovery operation. I don't want to lie: It's not like things immediately get better. But waves of hope crash off the screen. Those of us who plan to tune in on Oscar night could do well to take a swim in those waters.