Film stars & top musicians support Mayor's screening of The Salesman

24 February 2017
  • Members of The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians will perform after the free screening of Asghar Farhadi’s gripping drama, The Salesman in Trafalgar Square this Sunday (26 February).
  • 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
  • Amazon Studios joins as event partner as part of its commitment to ambitious and award-winning TV and film content in the UK

The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians will perform after the free screening of award winning Iranian director A‎sghar Farhadi’s gripping drama, The Salesman, in Trafalgar Square this Sunday (26 February).

The performance by members of The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians is announced as top film directors and actors gave their support to the free screening of the Oscar-nominated film, which will be hosted by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in Trafalgar Square, supported by Amazon Studios.

Leading actors Keira Knightley, Dominic West, Stephen Mangan, Julie Christie and Noomi Rapace and award-winning director Mike Leigh are among the film industry figures supporting the screening, which will coincide with the 89th Academy Awards in Hollywood and will celebrate London’s success as a creative hub and a global beacon for openness and diversity.

The Mayor is organising the screening, with the support of Amazon Studios and Curzon Artificial Eye, along with actor Lily Cole, producer Kate Wilson, and film-maker 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 and retail to say loud and clear that, after the EU referendum, London is open to the world.

People from across the capital are encouraged to arrive early, wrap up and be amongst the first in the country to see The Salesman, alongside a programme of readings and speeches given by high-profile actors and directors, including multi award-winning director Mike Leigh. The event will be presented by Mariella Frostrup.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “What better way to bring this celebration of creativity and diversity to an end than to have this amazing ensemble of musicians perform for a packed Trafalgar Square - sending out the message loud and clear that London is open to all people and all communities. A city where we don’t just tolerate our differences, we respect and embrace them.

“On the night of the Oscars, I’m so excited we’re able to host the UK premiere of The Salesman and welcome people from across London and beyond to share in this celebration of in the heart of the capital. “‎

Director of The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi, said: “Despite our different religions, nationalities and cultures, we are all citizens of the world and I will endeavor to spread and protect this unity. I am proud to be a member of this global family and believe in the strength and power of this movement. I’m sorry I won’t be able to be there with you, but I will be there in spirit. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.” 

Messages of support from film industry:

Actor, Dominic West, said: "I'm proud to stand with Asghar Farhadi and all of those impacted by the morass of Mr Trump's travel ban at this time. I live in London - a city defined by diversity and openness. Trafalgar Square as a vast, free and open cinema on Oscars night is the perfect expression of all we value."

Actor, Keira Knightley, said: “All art is an attempt to understand the human condition. At a time when largely racist and nationalistic rhetoric is becoming political policy - this event is a celebration of our diversity and a reminder of our shared humanity.”

Actor, Stephen Mangan, said: “London’s diversity, inclusiveness and openness make it one of the most exciting and creative places to work on Earth. I applaud this event and the Mayor’s message that ‘London is Open’. And I can’t wait to see the film."

Actor, Noomi Rapace, said: “In times like this, when hate, fear and walls rise... Our art form is more important than ever. #We all bleed the same colour #Love #Respect”

Director, Sarah Gavron, said:  “Filmmaking is about the expression of ideas and diverse visions. This screening celebrates that and counters the message of prejudice and division.”

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 film makers.  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, 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 filmakers 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, Mark Donne, said: "Recent protests here & globally show what we as civilian populations are opposed to: in a sense, what we are not. This event is different in that it shows the opposite: it expresses what we are. Open, pluralistic, tolerant & creative."

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 with 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. Certificate: (12A)

For those unable to make it to Trafalgar Square, distributor Curzon Artificial Eye will be organising screenings of The Salesman across the country on the 26th February. For more information, visit:

The Salesman will be on general theatrical release from 17th March 2017 and will be available for Amazon Prime members to stream and enjoy using the Amazon Video app for TVs, connected devices including Amazon Fire TV, and mobile devices, or online at at no additional cost to their membership later this year. Prime members will also be able to download the film to mobile devices for offline viewing.

Notes to editors

Listings Information

The Salesman

Certificate: (12A)

Free – first come, first served. Arrive early to grab a spot.

Trafalgar Square, London.

Doors open at 3pm. Speeches from 4.00pm. Screening from 4.30pm (2hrs 5mins)

Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi (A Separation) returns with The Salesman, a characteristically taut drama exploring how unexpected cracks can form in the foundations of a seemingly happy marriage. The future looks promising for amateur actors Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) as they prepare for opening night on their production of Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’. However, when dangerous work on a neighbouring building forces the couple to leave their home and move into a new apartment, a case of mistaken identity sees a shocking and violent incident throw their lives into turmoil. What follows is a series of wrong turns that threaten to destroy their relationship irreparably. Winner of the Best Screenplay and Best Actor awards at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars, Farhadi’s study on the potent power of pride, guilt and shame treads the line between arresting drama and revenge thriller with masterful ease.

UK trailer:

Further information (including images to download):


1600                Mariella Frostrup opens the event followed by speeches by Lily Cole, Mike Leigh and Sadiq Khan

1620                Video message from director Asghar Farhadi

1630                Screening of The Salesman begins

1835                Screening ends

1840                Music performance by The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

1900                Event ends

About Amazon Studios

Amazon Studios launched in 2010 as a new way to develop feature films and episodic series—one that’s open to great ideas from creators and audiences around the world. Anyone can upload a script online for Amazon Studios to review, and those who choose to make their projects public can also receive feedback from the Amazon Studios community. First announced in January 2015, Amazon Original Movies is an initiative by Amazon Studios to produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release and early window distribution exclusively for Prime members. Like Amazon Original Series, Amazon Original Movies focuses on unique stories, voices, and characters from top and up-and-coming creators. In 2015, Amazon Studios released its first filmChi-Raq from critically acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee. Chi-Raq is now available for Prime members to stream exclusively. Kenneth Lonergan’sManchester By The Sea is currently in cinemas in the US and up next, Amazon Studios will release Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson on December 28th in the US. Both films will be available to Prime members in the UK.


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Journalists without accreditation will not be given entry to the event.

The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians

In 2016, Africa Express, the music collective co-founded by Damon Albarn, brought together current and former members of the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music who had previously worked with Albarn, for series of rare concerts to showcase Syrian and Arabic music. Africa Express Presents… The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & guests played Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall last June, the day after the orchestra opened the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival, and were joined by guests including Albarn, Bassekou Kouyaté, Julia Holter, Faia Younan, Paul Weller and Rachid Taha for a performance described by the Evening Standard as “an epic paean to their homeland – 5 stars” There were similar shows staged in Amsterdam, Istanbul and Roskilde, Denmark.

Songwriter and producer Damon Albarn first played with Syrian conductor Issam Rafea and SNOAM musicians at the Damascus Opera House in 2008. Albarn later worked with Rafea and members of the orchestra when they appeared on the Gorillaz track ‘White Flag’ – which debuted at an Africa Express concert in Paris. The musicians, together with Rafea, joined Gorillaz on their 2010 ‘Escape to Plastic Beach’ World Tour which included shows at the 11th century Citadel in Damascus, Syria, as well as dates in Lebanon and across Europe and North America.  

As a result of the on-going conflict, many Syrian musicians have been forced to leave their country.  Last summer's tour saw musicians travel from both inside and outside Syria, to reunite for an event which helped highlight and celebrate the remarkable music culture of Syria, providing a more positive perspective than events currently seen in the news. The orchestra members performing on Sunday are now living in Britain and Europe as refugees.

A live album titled Africa Express Presents… The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & guests is available now on Transgressive Records.


#LondonIsOpen will show the world that London remains entrepreneurial, international, and full of creativity and possibility, while reassuring the more than one million foreign nationals who live in London that they will always be welcome, and that any form of discrimination will not be tolerated. The Mayor is urging all Londoners, organisations and businesses to show their support for the #LondonIsOpen message via social media, through other creative ways. The starting idea for the campaign is built around London opening its doors to welcome people in, and will encourage people to use this as a platform for their own contributions. A film of famous locations opening their doors has been produced

#LondonisOpen – City of Film

Click here to view the film:

Actors, directors and producers of British film joined forces last year to publicly show their support for London’s thriving film industry and to tell the world London is Open to creativity and talent from around the world. Leading figures including Gemma Arterton, Richard Curtis, Louis Theroux, Amma Asante, Cressida Bonas, Harry Enfield, Dominic Cooper and Jack Whitehall appeared in a short film bringing to life the diversity and vibrancy of the London Film scene.

The film, created for the Mayor of London’s #LondonIsOpen campaign, was unveiled by Sadiq Khan at the London Film Festival’s Mayor’s Gala, ‘The European Premiere of Their Finest’.

Supported by the British Film Institute and Film London, it was released to highlight London’s role as the global centre for creative industries and the driving force in film production.

A transcript of the film and a list of who delivered the lines is listed below:

London! (Gemma Arterton)

London! (Noel Clarke)

London! (Cressida Bonas)

London! (Dominic Cooper)

You sound like you’re from London! (Harry Enfield)

Yes, London! You know, fish and chips, cup o’tea, good food, bad weather, Mary Poppins. (Gemma Arterton)

In London everyone is different and that means anyone can fit in. (Richard Curtis)

I like the spirit of this great London, which I feel around me. (Amma Asante)

It is a roost for every bird. (Gurinder Chadha)

Because it is not the walls that make the city, but the people who live within them. (Sadiq Khan)

And the London Underground is not a political movement. I looked it up. (Louis Theroux)

I will take you to foggy London town, because you are my little gentleman. (Cressida Bonas).

There's things half in shadow and halfway in light, on the rooftops of London. Coo, what a sight! (Noel Clarke)

And when a man, or woman, is tired of London (Stephen Woolley)

Then they are tired of life. (Jack Whitehall)

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