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Oscar Best Foreign Film nominees chide 'climate of fanaticism'

The six filmmakers nominated for the foreign film Oscar have called for the Academy Award to go to people fighting for unity and the freedom of expression. At the French 'Cesars' George Clooney voiced similar concerns.

Ahead of this year's Oscars ceremony, the six directors competing for Best Foreign Film condemned the "climate of fanaticism" in the "US and so many other countries."

Cannes Filmfestspiele Maren Ade Filmregisseurin (picture-alliance/Geisler-Fotopress)

German filmmaker Maren Ade is considered a favorite to win, along with Iran's Asghar Farhadi

Maren Ade ("Toni Erdmann" - Germany), Asghar Farhadi ("The Salesman" - Iran), Martin Zandvliet ("Land of Mine" - Denmark), Hannes Holm ("A Man Called Ove" - Sweden) and the two directors of Australia's "Tanna" - Martin Butler and Bentley Dean - released a joint statement ahead of Sunday night's ceremony in Los Angeles, saying that leading politicians were using "the fear generated by dividing us into genders, colors, religions and sexualities as a means to justify violence."

They said that no matter who won the award, it would be dedicated "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."

Filmmaker Asghar Farhadi had previously announced that he would not attend the Oscar ceremony in response to US president Trump's travel ban for people from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Farhadi's native Iran. His "The Salesman" is considered one of the favorites.

In a video statement featured at a rally organized by influential talent agency United Talent Agency (UTA) on Friday, Farhadi accused the new US President Donald Trump of "trying to promote hate."

The film maker - who won an Oscar for his film "A Separation" in 2012 - also praised the unity among the cinema community. "It is comforting to know that at a time when some politicians are trying to promote hate by creating divisions between cultures, religions and nationalities, the cinema community has joined the people in a common show of unity to announce its opposition," Farhadi said.

UTA cancelled its party marking the Oscars weekend following President Trump's announcement of a travel ban and instead organized a rally for immigrants rights and press freedom. It also donated $250,000 (236,000 euros) to human rights and immigrant rights organizations.

Friday's rally attracted roughly 1,500 people and also featured speeches by actor Michael J. Fox - who called strong immigration restrictions "an assault on human dignity." Two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster was also present.

George Clooney at the Cesars

Several prominent actors and filmmakers have recently used award ceremonies as a platform to criticize the new US administration.

Frankreich George Clooney erhält französischen Ehren-César (Reuters/P. Wojazer)

George Clooney criticized President Donald Trump in his Cesar acceptance speech

During his acceptance speech at the Cesar awards in Paris on Friday night, US actor George Clooney also accused Donald Trump of exploiting people's fears. "We have to work harder not to let hate win," Clooney said as he received the honorary Cesar, France's equivalent of an Oscar.

In January, many award winners at the Golden Globes, Hollywood's second biggest awards ceremony after the Oscars, had indirectly and directly addressed the new US government. Most prominently actress Meryl Streep, who criticized Trump for mocking a disabled reporter, said that "disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose."

mb/jm (AP, dpa)

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