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Syrian subjects of the Oscar-nominated documentary 'The White Helmets' unable to attend ceremony due to travel ban

Nominee reactions

Syrian subjects of the Oscar-nominated documentary 'The White Helmets' unable to attend ceremony due to travel ban

The Oscar-nominated short documentary "The White Helmets" follows the work of the all-volunteer Syrian Civil Defense force, known as the White Helmets, who have saved thousands of lives in Syria. (Netflix)
The Oscar-nominated short documentary "The White Helmets" follows the work of the all-volunteer Syrian Civil Defense force, known as the White Helmets, who have saved thousands of lives in Syria. (Netflix)

The ramifications of the executive order signed Friday by President Trump to suspend refugee arrivals and ban entry to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries continue to unfold in Hollywood.

The travel ban means that the subjects of the Oscar-nominated short documentary "The White Helmets," a film that focuses on the rescue efforts of Syrian Civil Defense volunteers, who have saved more than 60,000 civilian lives in Syria and were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, will be unable to attend the ceremony.

"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," Joanna Natasegara, producer of "The White Helmets" told The Times. "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 news comes on the heels of a statement from Oscar-nominated Iranian director Asghar Farhadi stating that he will not be attending the ceremony, even if granted a travel exception, as "condemnation of the unjust conditions forced upon some of my compatriots and the citizens of the other six countries trying to legally enter the United States of America."

Farhadi won the Academy Award for foreign language film in 2012 for "A Separation" and is nominated this year for "The Salesman."

Marcel Mettelsiefen, who is nominated for an Oscar for documentary short subject for  "Watani: My Homeland," about a family fleeing the Syrian civil war and attempting to build a new life in Germany, shared similar sentiments regarding the executive order.

"This travel ban from President Trump is another devastating blow to refugees who have already suffered so much," Mettelsiefen told The Times.

"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," said Mettelsiefen.

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