How Can Film Fans Fight the #MuslimBan?

By  · Published on January 31st, 2017

Protests and donations and speeches, oh my!

At some point in your life, you’ve likely been faced with a question that has no solid answer. Some people may take such a puzzle to a trusted confidant, a friendly pastor, or the esteemed annals of Yahoo! Answers. But will they have the expertise needed to solve your most pressing film predicaments?

Think of Dear FSR as an impartial arbiter for all your film concerns. Boyfriend texting while you’re trying to show him your most precious Ozu? What’s the best way to confront the guy who snuck that pungent curry into your cramped theater? This is an advice column for film fans, by a film fan.

Dear FSR,

I was reading over the weekend that the executive order that President Trump signed on Friday banning immigrants from countries including Iraq and Iran as part of the Muslim ban would prevent Asghar Farhadi from traveling to the United States. His film The Salesman is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars and I’m wondering what’s the best way to help him (or any other foreign filmmakers/immigrants from the banned countries) in opposition to our government’s rhetoric. Any ideas?


Raising Awareness in Arizona

Dear Raising Arizona (yes, I caught that),

According to a statement issued to the New York Times, Farhadi has decided not to attend the Academy Awards even if those behind the ban allow him special treatment, so helping him seems to be a moot point. “The possibility of this presence is being accompanied by ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip,” he said, echoing a sentiment that many liberal Americans (like me) fear will close off America to the diverse people and cultures that make it great.

His statements about “hardliners” across the world and their dedication to formulating a global view of us vs. them should only encourage the film-loving population of the world to support artists internationally, especially those who’ve chosen to come spread their art in the U.S.

Hussein Hassan, director of the film The Dark Wind, which documents the Yazidi genocide in Iraqi Kurdistan, has withdrawn his visa application as an act of protest after his status as a speaker during March’s Miami Film Festival was called into question. Best Documentary Short nominee The White Helmets has two crew members banned from the Oscars, Raed Saleh and cinematographer Khaled Khateeb. Mahershala Ali’s emotional SAG Award speech proclaiming his Muslim faith, Ashton Kutcher’s solidarity with protestors and his immigrant wife Mila Kunis, and Kerry Washington’s short call for continued activism make it apparent that the industry won’t be silenced even if filmmakers continue to be shut out.

So what can film fans, critics, readers, and creators do to help?

Seeing The Salesman isn’t a bad place to start. The film’s currently in a limited release in New York and Los Angeles, but it’s pulling in a per theater average of $23,690 (for comparison, Chan Wook-Park’s The Handmaiden earned about $18,200 per theater). The next few weeks will see the film expand to other major cities and more and more theaters, so putting your money where your mouth is to support foreign film in America will become an easier and more visible form of protest.

If you’re more inclined to donate to the refugees and immigrants particularly hurt by this ruling, there are many avenues you can follow – many coordinated by notably outspoken entertainment figures. Kal Penn, an actor and former Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, organized a Syrian refugee crowdfund in the name of a racist Twitter troll. That campaign has already raised $614,950 as of this article.

Friend of FSR Drew McWeeny has pledged to donate a portion of all book sales to the ACLU as did our friends at BrightWall/DarkRoom, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt co-produced a short musical animation with the organization about knowing your protestor rights:

A cause that combines all these is the Islamic Scholarship Fund Film Grant, which awards up-and-coming Muslim (including many first- and second-generation immigrants) filmmakers with $20,000 for narrative features and $10,000 for documentaries, to facilitate the proliferation of engaging stories about the Islamic community. The students must be working on a first or second film, go through a multi-round application process, and eventually receive mentorship from working professionals.

For those interested – which I have a feeling you might be, Raising in Arizona— you can donate to the Film Grant here:

If you do donate, please let us know and let all of us at FSR show you our gratitude!

This is what democracy looks like,


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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).