Asghar Farhadi’s film The Salesman won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film on Sunday night, but the director wasn’t there to accept the award in person. He is no stranger to the Oscars, having won in the same category for A Separation, but declined to attend this year’s ceremony for political reasons. President Trump’s travel ban banned the director from the United States when it was instituted earlier this year, and even though there was a possibility that Farhadi would have been able to find a way into the country to attend the ceremony and accept his trophy in person, he boycotted the event in solidarity with the Iranian people.
In lieu of an in-person acceptance speech, Farhadi sent a statement to be read on his behalf by Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-American engineer who became the first Iranian-born person to travel to space in 2006. The statement can be watched in full in the video above. In it, Farhadi acknowledged the honor of the win and thanked the Academy, as well as all the people you would expect him to thank — his crew, the studio, so on and so forth. But then the letter segued into more poignant territory as Farhadi references the “inhumane law” that bans not only the people of Iran but those from six other countries from entering the United States. He wrote about how the ban divides the world into “us” and “our enemies” categories and how filmmakers can use their cameras to break stereotypes and create empathy through art.