Film world shows solidarity with refugees at Oscars and beyond
Academy Award winners and nominees were among a host of stars showing their support for refugees during Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles by wearing a blue #WithRefugees ribbon from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
In an initiative spearheaded by UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors Cate Blanchett and Yusra Mardini, those wearing the ribbon at the ceremony included members of the cast and crew of “All Quiet on the Western Front”, which won four awards including Best International Feature.
The film’s director, Edward Berger, said: “Today there are many people who suffer from the trauma of war, robbing them of their hope and their dreams. They have had to experience terrible things through war and then displacement. These people deserve our solidarity and support. Everywhere and all the time.”
Others showing their support at the event included Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro, who won the Best Animated Feature award for his film Pinocchio, Best Actor Nominee Bill Nighy, and Filipino actor Dolly De Leon.
The blue ribbons worn by the stars were made by refugees at Knotty Tie, a US company that helps refugees resettled in the Denver, Colorado, area achieve self-sufficiency through employment, training and education.
There was a moving moment during the award presentations when Best Supporting Actor winner Ke Huy Quan referenced his own refugee background in his acceptance speech.
“My journey started on a boat. I spent a year in a refugee camp, and somehow I ended up here on Hollywood’s biggest stage,” he said. “They say stories like this only happen in the movies. I cannot believe it’s happening to me.”
The Oscars were the culmination of an awards season in which more than 40 nominees, presenters and other attendees sent a message of solidarity and unity to viewers across the world by wearing the ribbon at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the BAFTAs and related events including the TIME Women of the Year awards and the Green Carpet Fashion Awards.
Beyond the awards themselves, many of the films nominated tackled human themes of displacement, separation and loss, including ‘The Swimmers’ (based on the story of Yusra Mardini and her sister Sara Mardini), ‘Bad Axe’, ‘Avatar’, ‘Argentina 1985’, ‘Wakanda Forever’ and ‘Marcel the Shell’. Through effective storytelling, these films help to combat discrimination and misunderstanding, build compassion and offer new perspectives.
Speaking at the BAFTAs in London earlier this year, Cate Blanchett, who also wore her ribbon at the Oscars where she was nominated for Best Actress, said: “What I love about film is the way it draws us into compelling human themes to uncover the connective tissue that binds us all. Whenever I have met refugees – in places such as Lebanon, Jordan or Bangladesh, here in the UK, or back home in Australia – what has struck me has not been their "otherness" but how many things we share in common.”
Full list of those wearing #WithRefugees ribbons across events during awards season 2023 and 2022, with thanks from UNHCR:
Aimee Lou Wood
Dolly De Leon
Gina Prince Bythewood
Guillermo del Toro
James Krishna Floyd
Jamie Lee Curtis
Sally El Hosaini
Samuel L Jackson