'Art has no borders': Cheryl Boone Isaacs' full Oscars lunch speech addresses Trump's travel ban

Major award shows such as the Grammys and the Oscars are right around the corner, but much of the arts and entertainment world is spending more time reacting to the new presidency of Donald Trump and his recent executive order on immigration. Here's what's...

'Art has no borders': Cheryl Boone Isaacs' full Oscars lunch speech addresses Trump's travel ban

Major award shows such as the Grammys and the Oscars are right around the corner, but much of the arts and entertainment world is spending more time reacting to the new presidency of Donald Trump and his recent executive order on immigration. Here's what's new and interesting in entertainment and the arts:

The annual Oscar lunch, hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, is usually a moment for bonding and photo taking among the year's nominees. News is rarely made.

But this year, the bonding was reinforced by a forceful speech by Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who addressed last year's #OscarsSoWhite issue and the Trump administration's travel ban.

"Each and every one of us knows that there are some empty chairs in this room," she said, referring in particular to Iranian director Asghar Farhadi and his star Taraneh Alidoosti. Their film "The Salesman" is nominated in the foreign language category. Neither is planning to attend the Feb. 26 ceremony because of the Trump policy.

Boone Isaacs also reinforced the Academy's commitment to diversity by reminding the group of the 683 new members from around the world invited last year to join the Academy — the largest incoming class ever — and by "the new faces among this year's nominees."

"Wow!" she said. "What a difference a year makes."

Here is the transcript of Boone Isaacs' speech at the nominees lunch:

"With your nomination, you are part of an almost century-old community, which is not just a Hollywood community, or an American community, but a global one.

"Filled with storytellers, domestic and international, [it's] one that is becoming more inclusive and diverse with each passing day. I'm so proud to be part of that and to see all the new faces among this year's nominees.

"Wow, what a difference a year makes.

"A year when the Academy grew by 683 new members. Men and women who will inspire the next generation with the same sense of wonder and enchantment that first touched each of you. Simply put, real progress has been made. Progress that I am confident will continue in the future as we continue to bring change to the Academy and our entire industry.

"When we expand our membership — when we reach out to be inclusive — we set a shining example. When our storytellers tackle issues of importance — from religious intolerance, to racism, to sexism — when we bring to the screen stories from around the world, we become agents of change. And when we speak out against those who try to put up barriers, we reinforce this important truth: That all artists around the world are connected by a powerful bond. One that speaks to our creativity and our common humanity.

"Today, we celebrate you. Your work and your achievements. But each and every one of us knows that there are some empty chairs in this room, which has made Academy artists activists. There is a struggle globally today over artistic freedom that feels more urgent than at any time since the 1950s. Art has no borders. Art has no language and doesn't belong to a single faith. No, the power of art is that it transcends all of these things and strong societies don't censor art — they celebrate it.

"America should always be not a barrier, but a beacon. We stand up in support of artists around the world. We stand up to those who would try and limit our freedom of expression and we stand up for this fundamental principle: That all creative artists around the world are connected by that unbreakable bond ... more powerful and permanent than nationality and politics.

"And just as our work does not stop at borders, borders cannot be allowed to stop any of us."

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