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Hollywood Just Canceled a Major Oscars Party and Is Supporting Refugees Instead

Robert Couse-Baker

The glitz and glamour of at least one Academy Awards party has been replaced this year with a call to support immigrants and refugees instead.

United Talent Agency, which throws an annual party for its clients ahead of the awards show, announced on Wednesday that this year it will instead hold a rally in support of inclusive immigration policy and donate $250,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union and the International Rescue Committee. 

The rally will be held on Feb. 24, two days before the Oscars ceremony, “to express the creative community’s growing concern with anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States,” reported the Hollywood Reporter.  

“This is a moment that demands our generosity, awareness, and restlessness,” Jeremy Zimmer, UTA’S chief executive, said in a letter to agency employees according to Variety

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“Our world is a better place for the free exchange of artists, ideas, and creative expression,” the letter said. “If our nation ceases to be the place where artists the world over can come to express themselves freely, then we cease, in my opinion, to be America.”

The decision comes after an executive order from US President Donald Trump banned all Syrian refugees indefinitely and placed a hold on immigrants from seven Muslim countries, including Iran, which has had 22 Oscar nominations in a myriad of categories since 1978.

This year, Iranian director and screenwriter Asghar Farhadi, whose film “A Separation” won best foreign language film last year, will not be attending the ceremony even though his film “ The Salesman ” is nominated this year. 

“I hereby express my condemnation of the unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries trying to legally enter the United States of America and hope that the current situation will not give rise to further divide between nations,” Farhadi said in a statement. 

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Farhadi, who had previously planned to attend the Oscars along with his cinematographer, was “honored and in tears” upon receiving the news of United Talent Agency’s new plan to support refugees and immigrants instead

While the creative community’s position on the travel ban might not be surprising, the step that United Talent Agency is taking goes beyond a statement —  they are taking action. 

And when powerful individuals stand up for the rights of the most vulnerable, well, that deserves a standing ovation.