By: Amelia Fabiano
President Trump’s travel ban was certainly felt at the Academy’s 36th annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon on Monday.
“Each and every one of us knows that there are some empty chairs in this room, which makes all of us activists,” Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in her speech at the luncheon. “Art has no borders. Art has no language and doesn’t belong to a single faith…Just as our work does not stop at borders, borders cannot be allowed to stop any of us.”
Asghar Farhadi, the Iranian director of best foreign-language film nominee ‘The Salesman,’ as well as the subjects of short documentary nominee ‘The White Helmets’ are expected to miss this year’s Oscars ceremony because of President Trump’s executive order halting entry from citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.
Farhadi was granted an exception to the ban, but is boycotting the awards in response.
Boone Isaacs also noted the progress made with diversity in the past year, referring to the increase in artists of color as nominees across several major categories. The Oscars have been notoriously criticized in the past few years as being whitewashed, notably with #OscarsSoWhite on social media.
“Real progress has been made — progress that I am confident will continue in the future,” she said. “When we reach out to be inclusive, we set an important example. We become agents of change.”
The 89th Annual Academy Awards will air live on Sunday, Feb. 26.
This news was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.