Nominated film The White Helmets is directly effected by the order.
When the Oscar nominees were announced last week, a notable theme was evident in the category for Best Documentary (Short Subject). Three of the contenders — The White Helmets, Watani: My Homeland, and 4.1 Miles — all involve the plight of refugees, which is certainly one of the biggest stories of our time. And joining them is Best Documentary (Feature) nominee Fire at Sea.
Obviously, these films are all the more relevant following the Trump Administration’s executive order banning refugees from seven Muslim-majority Middle Eastern nations. But the new immigration ban has had a direct effect on one of those films, The White Helmets. The subjects of the film, Syrian first responders who’ve also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, will no longer be able to attend the Academy Awards as planned.
“We have always said that if we were to be nominated, we would bring Raed Saleh, the head of the White Helmets, who has spoken many times in D.C., and Khaled Khateeb, the young cinematographer who risked his life over and over again, as our guests,” says The White Helmets producer Joanna Natasegara in a statement provided to Nonfics. “They’ve been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize — these people are the bravest humanitarians on the planet, and the idea that they could not be able to come with us and enjoy that success is just abhorrent.”
The White Helmet subjects aren’t the only ones associated with this year’s Oscars effected by the ban. Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi, who directed the Best Foreign Language Film nominee The Salesman, is also no longer allowed in the U.S., despite having just been in the country promoting his movie. He issued a statement over the weekend that even if he’s given an exception to travel to the Academy Awards, he will not attend.
Nonfics additionally received a statement from Watani director Marcel Mettelsiefen who says, “This travel ban from President Trump is another devastating blow to refugees who have already suffered so much. As Trump seeks to demonize refugees and Muslim people in general, films such as Watani: My Homeland, which tell the human story of refugees become ever more important. We must reconnect with the common humanity of the refugee experience and we must all remember that the founding story of America is dependent upon people who have fled war, hunger, and poverty in search of a better life.”