Thousands of people gathered on Oscar Sunday in London’s Trafalgar Square for a free screening of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-nominated film ‘The Salesman.’
The gathering was a show of solidarity behind the Iranian director and against U.S. President Donald Trump, according to The Evening Standard. Footage from the square shows long lines of people waiting for the event to begin.
Farhadi, the director, is boycotting Sunday’s Academy Awards in the wake of Trump’s executive order barring people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran, from entering the United States.
His film, “The Salesman,” is up for best foreign language film.
The central London Square was transformed into a huge outdoor theater in order to feature the movie, completed with food and drink stands.
London’s first Muslim Mayor, Sadiq Khan, spoke at the event, saying “President Trump can’t silence me.” the mayor said that the “key message” of the event is “London is open.”
He added that the city stands behind Farhadi and “all those discriminated against because of their nationalities, their faith or their background.”
“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 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.”
The director was not present for the event, but did address the crowd in a recorded message. “Despite our different religions, cultures and nationalities, we are all citizens of the world,” he said. Apologizing for not being at the event in person, he told the crowd that “I am there in spirit and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”
Actor Lily Cole also delivered a speech to the crowd, saying “We are here to say what alternatives are possible, we are here to demonstrate that alternatives are possible and why things like the Trump ban are unnecessary in this day and age, because London is wonderfully open.”
“I hope you remember the pretext that brought us here, because we may see more ludicrous policies coming out, we may see more attempts to discriminate against millions of people based purely on their race and where they were born. And what we all need to be here today to remember and keep saying is, ‘no, that’s not acceptable’ and an alternative is possible.”
The Oscar ceremonies are expected to have more than their share of political speeches about Trump.