The nominees for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2017 Academy Awards are taking a stand. It's unlikely to be the last one we see in the Oscar ceremony this year, but it is the first so far.
In a statement issued by all five nominated directors, they uniformly condemn "the climate of fanaticism and nationalism" in the U.S. and other countries — as this is an American awards show, naturally America is the focus of the statement.
The powerful statement continues, with the directors writing, "The fear generated by dividing us into genders, colors, religions and sexualities as a means to justify violence destroys the things that we depend on – not only as artists but as humans: the diversity of cultures, the chance to be enriched by something seemingly "foreign" and the belief that human encounters can change us for the better. These divisive walls prevent people from experiencing something simple but fundamental: from discovering that we are all not so different."
In searching for what action they could take, the directors considered what film could do and opted to make their political announcement in advance of the Oscars. They note that regardless of who wins in their category, saying, "We believe there is no best country, best gender, best religion or best color. We want this award to stand as a symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts."
They have pre-emptively dedicated the award to "all the people, artists, journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understanding, and who uphold freedom of expression and human dignity" as a sign of respect and solidarity.
The statement was signed by Martin Zandvliet, director of Land of Mine representing Denmark; Hannes Holm, director of A Man Called Ove representing Sweden; Asghar Farhadi, director of The Salesman representing Iran; Maren Ade, director of Toni Erdmann representing Germany; and Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, directors of Tanna representing Australia.