Bahman Ghobadi, the Iranian filmmaker in exile, wrote an open letter to the Academy of Cinema Arts and Sciences on Tuesday, asking for Oscar recognition for independent exiled filmmakers from their home country.
“There could be a refugee filmmaker team; they can have their works screened by a jury and possibly a film can be chosen from the refugee team, ”reads Ghobadi’s letter, making a comparison with the refugee Olympic team at the Summer Olympics in 2020 in Tokyo.
Ghobadi, whose film A time for drunken horses (2000), Camera d’Or Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, has been in exile for 13 years. He joined the Academy of Cinema, Arts and Sciences in 2017, according to Deadline.
In his letter, the director of Turtles can fly (2004), who won the Glass Bear and the Peace Film Award at the Berlin Film Festival, asks the Oscar commissioner “to have a representative of exiled artists”.
Addressing not only the issue of filmmakers in exile such as Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, but also that of filmmakers in Russia and China who work “under a lot of pressure and censorship”, Ghobadi’s letter stated: “Needless to say that ‘there are many independent filmmakers living in their country, disenfranchised and suffering in silence. The works of these brave filmmakers are not only censored and banned by the regimes, but they also never get a chance to enter the Academy of Oscars. “
The director, who has twice won the Golden Shell at the San Sebastian Film Festival, also pointed out his own difficulties when making films, including the language to be used to allow his films to be screened in other countries. “The only thing I can do is hope that a government appreciates my art and presents it to the academy,” he wrote.
Among the recently exiled filmmakers are several Afghans, such as Sahraa Karimi and Shahrbanoo Sadat, who became refugees after fleeing the country after the Taliban took Kabul. While Karimi is in Kiev, Ukraine, Sadat fled to Hamburg, Germany.