As part of its #LondonIsOpen campaign, the City of London will transform Trafalgar Square into a massive cinema on February 26 to host the UK premiere of Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-nominated The Salesman. The date is not insignificant as the screening will be held just a few hours before the Academy Awards are handed out in Los Angeles.
The city says the free event is intended to “celebrate the capital’s diversity and demonstrates that London is open to creative talent as well as people from all countries and all communities.”
Iranian director Farhadi said in late January that he would not attend the Oscar ceremony after President Donald Trump signed an executive order prohibiting entry into the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim countries including Iran. Trump’s travel ban has since been stalled in the courts, but Farhadi’s position is understood to remain constant.
On February 26, London Mayor Sadiq Khan as well as actors and directors will address what is expected to be an audience of up to 10,000 in Trafalgar Square. Also helping to organize the event are actress Lily Cole, producer Kate Wilson and filmmaker Mark Donne.
In a statement today, Farhadi — already an Oscar winner for 2011’s A Separation — said, “Screening The Salesman in Trafalgar Square has a great symbolic value for me. The gathering of the audience around The Salesman in this famous London square is a symbol of unity against the division and separation of people. I offer my warmest thanks to the Mayor of London and the cinema community for this generous initiative. I welcome and appreciate this invaluable show of solidarity.”
Added Khan, “Londoners have always prided themselves on their openness to the world, and what better way to do that than to come together to watch this powerful film in one of the world’s most famous public spaces.”
The Salesman centers on a young couple forced to move into a new apartment after their old flat becomes damaged. Once relocated, a sudden eruption of violence linked to the previous tenant changes the couple’s life. In the film, they are also starring in a production of Death Of A Salesman. The psychological drama premiered in Cannes where it won the screenplay prize and Best Actor for Shahab Hosseini who stars alongside Taraneh Alidoosti who previously also said she would not attend the Oscars.