The Iranian film The Salesman won Best Foreign Language Film at Sunday's Academy Awards.
The nominees in the category also included Toni Erdmann (Germany), A Man Called Ove (Sweden), Land of Mine (Denmark) and Tanna (Australia).
The Salesman's director Asghar Farhadi announced in January that he would not be attending the Academy Awards in the wake of Donald Trump's Muslim ban, which prevented people from Yemen, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iraq and Farhadi's home country, Iran, from entering the U.S. However, he did have a prepared statement of his read by Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian entrepreneur, philanthropist and astronaut.
"I'm sorry I'm not with you tonight," Farhadi's statement read. "My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of the other six nations who have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the U.S. Dividing the world into the us and our enemies categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which themselves have been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others — an empathy that we need today more than ever.
Prior to the ceremony, all five directors nominated for foreign language film issued a joint statement, obtained by USA Today, that condemned "the climate of fanaticism and nationalism" in the United States, among other countries. The directors - Farhadi, Maren Ade (Toni Erdmann), Hannes Holm (A Man Called Ove), Martin Zandvliet (Land of Mine) and Bently Dean and Martin Butler (Tanna) - said that no matter which films wins, the Oscar is dedicated to "all the people, artists, journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understand, and who uphold freedom of expression and human dignity - values whose protection is now more important than ever."
"We believe there is no best country, best gender, best religion or best color," the statement reads. "We want this award to stand as a symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts."
Hours before the Oscars ceremony began, Farhadi spoke out against Trump a London protest, during which The Salesman was screened. "This solidarity is off to a great start," Farhadi said via satellite to the 10,000 protesters gathered in Trafalgar Square, The Gaurdian reports. "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 say no to oppressive political powers everywhere."