premiere, part Trump protest, Londoners gather for Oscar
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[February 27, 2017]
By Robin Pomeroy
LONDON (Reuters) -
Thousands of people braved London's winter drizzle on
Sunday for a screening of the Oscar-nominated movie that
has become a rallying point for opponents of U.S.
President Donald Trump’s immigration policy.
Hours ahead of what looked set to be the most politicized
Academy Awards for years, London Mayor Sadiq Khan made clear his
political motivation in hosting the British premiere of the "The
Salesman", whose Iranian director is boycotting the Hollywood
"President Trump cannot silence me," Khan said to cheers from
the crowd gathered in Trafalgar Square. "We stand in solidarity
with Asghar Farhadi, one of the world’s greatest directors."
Farhadi, who won an Oscar in 2012 for "A Separation", is
bookmakers’ favorite to win another Best Foreign Language Film
statuette later on Sunday but is staying away in protest at
Trump’s attempt to ban people from seven Muslim-majority
countries from entering the United States.
In a video message from Tehran, Farhadi thanked the "dear people
of London who are gathered on this cold afternoon", and said he
was heartened by the reaction of filmmakers and artists to "the
oppressive travel ban of immigrants".
"I hope this movement will continue and spread for it has within
itself the power to stand up to fascism, be victorious in the
face of extremism and saying no to oppressive political powers
everywhere," Farhadi said.
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The directors of the four films he is up against – from Sweden,
Germany, Denmark and Australia – joined Farhadi in issuing a joint
statement ahead of the Oscars criticizing a "climate of fanaticism
and nationalism" in the United States and elsewhere.
Mike Leigh, the many-times Oscar-nominated British director, hailed
Farhadi as "the master" for filmmakers like him "who make films
about real people and issues".
"Our protest is of course against Donald Trump’s cynical, divisive
and destructive policies, especially his unforgivable travel ban,"
Leigh told the London crowd.
Khan's decision to host the movie event once again put him at odds
with the British government which has been quick to forge close
relations with Trump, particularly as Britain prepares to leave the
On his election as mayor last year, Khan, a Muslim who is one of the
most prominent figures in the opposition Labour Party, said Trump
had an "ignorant" view of Islam. He has since called on the
government to rescind its invitation for Trump to make a state visit
(Editing by Angus MacSwan)
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