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Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi's attendance at Academy Awards in doubt under Trump's travel ban

Confusion erupted Saturday in the the wake of President Trump’s executive order banning travel to the U.S. from several Muslim-majority countries, and its potential impact on the ability of Iranian filmmaker and Oscar nominee Asghar Farhadi to attend next month’s Academy Awards.

Farhadi, whose latest film “The Salesman” is nominated for best foreign language film, was considered likely to be barred under the new order, as president of the National Iranian American Council Trita Parsi tweeted on Friday: “Confirmed: Iran's Asghar Farhadi won't be let into the US to attend Oscar's.”

The tweet followed Trump’s order that banned travel to the U.S. over the next 90 days from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The abrupt ban, which also suspended all refugee arrivals from Syria, resulted in several passengers from some of those countries being detained at New York’s John. F. Kennedy Airport on Saturday.

Parsi reported that Farhadi has only a Iranian passport and no U.S. “green card,” which would leave him subject to the ban unless he applied for an artistic exception.

“The law is very clear and I’ve heard confirmation that he’s not coming,” Parsi told the Los Angeles Times on Friday night.

According to a tweet Saturday from a correspondent for BBC Persian, the filmmaker’s office said there was no “legal obstacle” for him to visit the U.S. for the Oscars, but that Farhadi has not yet decided if he wants to attend.

Calls to representatives for Farhadi, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were not immediately returned.

“The problem that we’re having right now is that the executive order is so ambiguous,” said Parsi, whose organization is the largest nonprofit of its kind representing the Iranian American community. “This administration, to be kind, is rather amateurish in how they’re sending out information. We hope that in the next couple of days they clarify exactly what they want these rules to mean and how they should be interpreted, because they cast an extremely wide net.”

Taraneh Alidoosti, the lead actress in “The Salesman,” announced in the wake of the executive order that she would not attend the Academy Awards. “Trump's visa ban for Iranians is racist,” Alidoosti wrote. “Whether this will include a cultural event or not, I won't attend the #AcademyAwards 2017 in protest.”

Farhadi, whose films are not overtly political, won the Academy Award for foreign language film in 2012 for “A Separation.” In an interview with The Times earlier this month, he spoke optimistically about the prospects for change in his country, where he continues to work and reside.

“In appearance, everything is becoming modern in Iran,” he said. “Buildings and skyscrapers are going up. Old buildings are being torn down. Arthur Miller is staged there. There’s cinema. But once you push that back, you see Iran’s culture and tradition beneath.”

He also commented during the interview on the U.S. presidential election, saying, “You had great potential and I’m still in shock” at the election of Donald Trump.

Times Staff Writers Jen Yamato and Jeffrey Fleishman contributed to this report.

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chris.barton@latimes.com

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