Protest screening of 'The Salesman' in London draws thousands

Tehran-based director Asghar Farhadi's film won best foreign language film at the 2017 Oscars. Farhadi and his crew boycotted the Hollywood event to protest US President Donald Trump's travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Sunday's open-air protest screening in iconic Trafalgar Square was the film's premiere in the UK.

Thousands of people gathered in central London on Sunday to watch the free open-air screening of The Salesman, an Iranian movie that went on to win the Oscar for best foreign language film later on the same day on the other side of the world in Los Angeles.

The film's Tehran-based director Asghar Farhadi and his crew boycotted the Oscars over US President Donald Trump's travel ban that affected visitors from seven majority-Muslim countries, including Iran.

Instead of attending the award ceremony, Farhadi sent a protest letter which was read by Iranian-American engineer and astronaut Anousheh Ansari, who went on stage to accept the Oscar on behalf of the director.

Taraneh Alidoosti, the lead actor in The Salesman, tweeted her RSVP for the Oscars in January.​

At the screening, London's Mayor Sadiq Khan expressed solidarity with Farhadi, who sent a video message from Tehran to the gathering, thanking the "dear people of London," who came out on a cold and wet day to protest the "the oppressive travel ban of immigrants."

"There are people here from Iran to Iraq, from Shoreditch and Streatham, from Lebanon and London - showing the world that London is open. Open to talent, open to creativity and open to people," Khan, the cosmopolitan city's first Muslim mayor, said.

"At a time when people want to have travel bans, we should talk about welcoming people. At a time when people want to build walls, we should build bridges," he added.

Sunday's screening at iconic Trafalgar Square was the film's first showing in the UK. 

TRT World's Myriam Francois was there and has this report.