The Iranian director boycotting this weekend’s Oscars over Donald Trump’s travel ban will address a London screening of his nominated film hours before the ceremony kicks off in Los Angeles.
Asghar Farhadi, who won an Academy Award in 2012, has said he will not attend the ceremony even if he is granted permission to enter the country following the ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries entering the United States.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan and actors Keira Knightley, Dominic West and Lily Cole have organised a free screening of Farhadi’s The Salesman in Trafalgar Square on Sunday in a bid to show solidarity with the filmmaker’s boycott.
Less than 48 hours until Trafalgar Sq transforms into a giant cinema for UK premiere of #TheSalesman https://t.co/nVFSzi4qvn #LondonIsOpen pic.twitter.com/llMNAbLpV0— Mayor's Press Office (@LDN_pressoffice) February 24, 2017
The director will not be present at the premiere in London but said he would be there “in spirit”, adding: “Thank-you all from the bottom of my heart.”
A video message from him will be played ahead of the screening while the mayor, Lily and director Mike Leigh will address attendees.
The Salesman is up for best foreign language film at the star-studded ceremony in California.
Keira said the event would be a “celebration of our diversity” at a time when “largely racist and nationalistic rhetoric is becoming political policy”.
Sunday’s Oscars ceremony is expected to be dominated by political speeches about Trump and his controversial travel ban, while comedian Jimmy Kimmel, who will host the show, has said the US president will be a target for jibes.
Musical La La Land could make history at the 89th Academy Awards, taking place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
The glittering love letter to Los Angeles has been nominated for 14 prizes, tying the record set by All About Eve and Titanic, and could become the most decorated film of all time.
It is favourite to strike gold in the best picture and best director categories, while Emma Stone is expected to claim the best actress award at 1/6, according to bookies’ Ladbrokes.
However, Emma’s co-star Ryan Gosling looks set to miss out on the best actor gong with Casey Affleck the bookies’ favourite for his role in Manchester By The Sea at 4/6.
In the best supporting actress and actor categories, Viola Davis is expected to be awarded for her performance in Fences and Moonlight’s Mahershala Ali is favourite beat Brit Dev Patel.
The free screening of The Salesman will begin at 3pm in Trafalgar Square.