Over the last few years, one of the most exciting filmmakers working on the world stage has been Asghar Farhadi, an Iranian whose films, including such titles as “About Elly,” “A Separation” and “The Past,” have dealt with ordinary people struggling with personal conflicts and moral conundrums whose attempts to solve these problems often lead to unforeseen or terrible consequences. His works have been acclaimed throughout the world, and in 2012, “A Separation” received the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, and Farhadi earned a second nomination for Original Screenplay. He even came to Chicago to accept our group’s award for Best Foreign Language Film, and his presence made for one of the emotional highlights of that night.
His current film, “The Salesman,” tells the story of an Iranian couple whose happiness is torn asunder when one of them is the victim of an unthinkable act and the other becomes consumed with getting revenge against the person believed to be responsible. Like his earlier films, it has been embraced throughout the world since it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year, where Farhadi received the Best Screenplay award and star Shahab Hosseini was named Best Actor. As was the case with “A Separation,” it too was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film just last week. This year, however, Farhadi will be unable to attend the ceremony because he will be barred from entering this country as a result of your Executive Order barring all citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East from entering the United States for 90 days, an order issued to combat terrorism, even though the list does not include any of the Muslim-majority countries that actually had connections with acts of terrorism such as 9/11.
Farhadi may be the one of the most high-profile people to be caught up in the aftermath of your executive order but he is far from the only one. Doctors, scientists, students, people of all ages attempting to flee war-torn areas before it is too late - these are the kinds of people who are now being barred outright from entering the United States simply for being from a Muslim-centric country.
The Chicago Film Critics Association stands with an ever-growing number of voices throughout the world, asking you to please reconsider this terribly short-sighted and potentially disastrous action that you have undertaken, both in the name of Farhadi and of the thousands of others - perhaps not as famous but equally important - who will find their lives needlessly thrown into turmoil as a result of it. If it is allowed to continue, even if only for 90 days, it will not only tarnish irrevocably the office of the presidency but also lower our moral and ethical standing throughout the world.
The Chicago Film Critics Association
Board of Directors
Dann Gire (President)
Brian Tallerico (Vice President)
Erik Childress (Executive Secretary)
Alejandro Riera (Treasurer)
Peter Sobczynski (Membership)
David J. Fowlie