Tuesday March 07, 2017

Jamsheed Akrami says films are an important source of empathy in the Trump era

Jamsheed Akrami is an Irani-American film professor who recently wrote an open letter to President Trump.

Jamsheed Akrami is an Irani-American film professor who recently wrote an open letter to President Trump. (Courtesy of Jamsheed Akrami)

Listen 6:34

Like many people, Iranian-American film professor Jamsheed Akrami was appalled at President Trump's attempt to ban travellers from his home country, among others, to the U.S. And like so many people, he noticed the news that, on the weekend Trump signed that executive order, he also took the time to watch the Disney film, Finding Dory.

So professor Akrami wondered: What if Trump had watched an Iranian film instead? Perhaps, the Oscar-winning film The Salesman by Asghar Farhadi, which came out that same weekend.

"If he had seen that movie, that would've given him second thoughts," Akrami suggests. "Because he would've seen images of Iranian people that were completely different from the ones that he had perceived in his mind."

Today on the show, Akrami discusses the important role films play in people's ability to feel empathy in a time when it feels like certain parts of the world lack it. 

Web extra: Read Akrami's open letter to President Trump here, and scroll down for a list of Akrami's film suggestions: 

Where is the Friend's House (Abbas Kiarostami)
Beautiful City (Asghar Farhadi)
Offside (Jafar Panahi)
A Time for Drunken Horses (Bahman Ghobadi)
Baran (Majid Majidi)
Persepolis (Marjan Satrapi)

— Produced by Diane Eros