By Piya Sinha-Roy
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (Reuters) - The directors of all five Oscar-nominated foreign language films on Friday denounced what they called a "climate of fanaticism and nationalism" in the United States and elsewhere, and dedicated their Academy Award to the cause of unity and free expression.
The directors from Iran, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Australia spoke out in a statement as hundreds of people attended a rally on the eve of Oscar weekend. The rally was organized by one of Hollywood's biggest talent agencies in support of freedom of expression and unity.
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The statement and show-business rally in Beverly Hills followed a crackdown by U.S. President Donald Trump on travel to the United States, and months of fiery speeches by celebrities at awards shows and marches.
Iranian film director Asghar Farhadi, is boycotting Sunday's Oscar ceremony in protest at Trump's bid to ban travel from seven majority Muslim nations.
Speaking to the rally in a video from Tehran, Farhadi denounced politicians whom he said are "trying to promote hate but creating divisions between cultures, traditions and nationalities."
Farhadi was also part of the group that attacked "divisive walls," and the divisions of "genders, colors, religions and sexualities" in current politics.
"We would like to express our unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians," said the statement, issued to trade publications Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.
It was signed by Farhadi director of "The Salesman", Martin Zandvliet (Demark's "Land of Mine"), Hannes Holm (Sweden's "A Man Called Ove"), Maren Ade (Germany's "Toni Erdmann"), and Martin Butler and Bentley Dean (Australia's "Tanna".)
The directors said that "regardless of who wins the Academy Award for best foreign language film on Sunday, we refuse to think in terms of borders."
"We dedicate this award to all the people, artists, journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understanding, and who uphold freedom of expression and human dignity."
Their statement echoed speeches at the Beverly Hills rally, organized by the United Talent Agency in place of its annual Oscar party.
Actress Jodie Foster urged the crowd of about 500 people to take action to defend civil liberties and democracy.
"It's our time to show up and demand answers. It's our time to tell our elected officials to do their job (and) that we will not tolerate chaos, ineptitude and war mongering," she said.
(Editing by Jill Serjeant and Sandra Maler)