On Wednesday, the United Talent Agency announced they canceled their annual Academy Awards party to protest Trump’s travel ban. Instead, the UTA will donate $250,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union and the International Rescue Committee, as well as host a rally to support immigration. The rally will take place on February 24th, two days before the Oscars, to “express the creative communities' growing concern with anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States.” The UTA said the rally will aim to combat the “potential chilling effect on the global exchange of ideas and freedom of expression.”
UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer said in a letter to agency employees: “This is a moment that demands our generosity, awareness, and restlessness. Our world is a better place for the free exchange of artists, ideas, and creative expression. 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.”
Trump’s travel ban affected the UTA personally since they represent Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, who is nominated this year in the Best Foreign Language Film category for “The Salesman.” Farhadi has chosen to boycott the Oscars this year in protest of Trump’s order. When contacted by the UTA about their decision, he responded with a text saying he was “honored and in tears.”
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