Creating new perspectives since 2009

Oscar-nominated Syria producer denied US visa

February 21, 2018 at 1:10 pm

Syrian film producer Kareem Abeed will not be able to attend the Academy Awards’ ceremony next month after his application for a US visa was rejected, Business Insider reported yesterday.

Abeed, who holds a Syrian passport and is currently living in Turkey, was found ineligible for a visa under Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, despite planning to travel to the US to support his nominated film “Last Men in Aleppo”, which documents the White Helmets civil rescue team.

His rejection comes following the implementation of US President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, which restricts the entry of people from Syria, as well as North Korea, Iran, Chad, Libya, Venezuela and Yemen.

“It’s difficult to understand how such a decision can be justified,” Ryan Krivoshey, the president of the movie’s US distributor Grasshopper Film, said.

The filmmakers have risked their lives to show the world what is happening in their homeland. We should be honouring their bravery and courage, not denying them entry to our country.

Last Men in Aleppo” is the first film directed and produced by Syrians to earn an Oscar nomination. The documentary takes the viewer on a journey with the volunteers of the White Helmets as they attempt to save civilians buried in rubble during the government’s siege of Aleppo in 2016.

Read: Syria boy wins Children’s Peace Prize for building refugee school

The White Helmets’ co-founder, Mahmoud Al-Hatter, who is featured in the movie,  was also planning to attend the ceremony has also been denied a visa, after Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad accused the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated group of having links to Al-Qaida.

In a statement released yesterday, the Academy Awards also expressed solidarity with Abeed: “For 90 years, the Oscars have celebrated achievement in the art of filmmaking, which seeks to transcend borders and speak to audiences around the world, regardless of national, ethnic, or religious differences. As supporters of filmmakers — and the human rights of all people — around the globe, we stand in solidarity with Fayyad as well as the film’s producer Kareem Abeed.”

Last year, Khaled Khateeb, the Syrian cinematographer behind last year’s documentary short Oscar nominee “The White Helmets”, was similarly barred from entering the US after the Assad regime cancelled his passport; the film went on to win an Academy Award.

Read: Stars of Oscar-nominated Palestinian documentary imprisoned by Israel