On Sunday 26 February, Trafalgar Square will be transformed into London’s biggest cinema for a free screening of Asghar Farhadi’s gripping drama The Salesman. The screening – just hours before the Oscars are handed out at the 89th Academy Awards in Hollywood - will mark the UK premiere. Before the screening, stars of London’s film industry will address an audience of up to 10,000 people in Trafalgar Square.
The Mayor is organising the screening, along with actress Lily Cole, producer Kate Wilson, and filmmaker Mark Donne, to coincide with the Oscars to celebrate the capital’s success as a creative hub and a global beacon for openness and diversity. Since the start of his Mayoralty, Sadiq Khan has led Londoners from across the worlds of film, dance, theatre, music, art, sport, retail and even the animal kingdom to say loud and clear that, post-EU referendum, London is open to the world.
People from across the capital are encouraged to arrive early, wrap up and enjoy The Salesman, alongside a programme of readings and speeches given by high-profile actors and directors, including multi award-winning director Mike Leigh.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “On the night of the Oscars, it’s absolutely fantastic to be able to screen the UK premiere of The Salesman in Trafalgar Square. I’m delighted to welcome people from across the capital and beyond to share in this celebration of London as an international hub of creativity and as a beacon of diversity. “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.”
Director of The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi, 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."
Award-winning director, Mike Leigh, said: “It is to the Mayor of London's tremendous credit that he is hosting this special premiere screening of The Salesman in Trafalgar Square. My friend Asghar Farhadi, whom I have known since we served together on the Jury of the 2012 Berlin Film Festival, is one of the world's greatest filmmakers. For those of us who make movies about real life, real people and real issues, he is the master - a true inspiration to all of us. 'The Salesman' is compelling, moving and entertaining, and I urge everybody in our capital to come and enjoy it in Trafalgar Square. We must show solidarity with Asghar and his principles, and against divisiveness and hate. “
Actor and model, Lily Cole, said: "Having grown up in London I have always loved the multiculturalism and openness of this city. I am very heartened that the mayor of London - and our film community - have stepped up to celebrate that openness and diversity at such a critical political moment. It’s an important and positive signal to send. I look forward to watching Asghar’s film and hope you will join us!”
CEO of Curzon, Philip Knatchbull, said: "Asghar Farhadi is a filmmaker of great intelligence whose work can only enrich the lives of audiences around the world. To be able celebrate his latest film The Salesman in this manner is a real privilege. Curzon is committed to filmmakers from across the world who have outward looking and inclusive voices and to find common cause in that aim with the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is tremendous. I would like to personally thank Mark Donne, Kate Wilson and Lily Cole for having the imagination to initiate this idea and the tenacity to see it through."
Filmmaker and writer, Mark Donne, said: “When I first had the idea for the screening, it was as a filmmaker, a Londoner & an individual who cherishes living in an incredibly diverse, open community. To have this event hosted by the Mayor of a city that’s globally synonymous with all of those things is pretty amazing. Asghar Farhadi is an incredible story-teller. I hope his work showing in this city, at this moment, sends a tremendous international signal of unity & tolerance."
The Salesman, directed by Asghar Farhadi, stars Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti in the lead roles of Emad and Rana. This critically acclaimed film won Best Screenplay at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival with Shahab Hosseini winning Best Actor. It has been nominated in the Best Foreign Film category in the 89th Academy Awards which take place from midnight (GMT) on Sunday 26 February.
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi has previously announced his decision not to attend the main Oscars ceremony in Hollywood, regardless of whether he was offered special dispensation to attend by the US Government, in solidarity against those affected by President Donald Trump’s travel ban on people from seven Muslim majority countries (including Iran) from entering the USA.
The screening of The Salesman will begin at 4.30pm and will end at 6.35pm - with doors opening at 3.00pm and speeches from 4.00pm. The event is free - first come, first served. Arrive early to grab a spot.
After the screening, members of The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians will perform.
Film industry figures giving their backing to the event include actors Dominic West, Keira Knightley, Noomi Rapace, Stephen Mangan, Julie Christie and director Sarah Gavron.
The screening will be presented by Mariella Frostrup, with speeches from director Mike Leigh, actor Lily Cole and event host Sadiq Khan.