Director Feras Fayyad points finger at Trump administration travel ban
The Oscar-nominated producer and one of the key subjects of Last Men in Aleppo will be kept from attending the Academy Awards, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
"The Syrian government has refused to expedite the travel visa process for producer Kareem Abeed and White Helmets founding member Mahmoud Al-Hattar, who is featured in the film," according to the report published Wednesday.
Syrian-born director Feras Fayyad, who now makes his home in Denmark, will be able to attend. He blamed the Trump administration's travel ban on several predominantly Muslim countries for the probable absence of Abeed and Al-Hattar.
"Kareem, my producer and fellow nominee, cannot come to the U.S. because of the Trump travel ban," Fayyad told The Hollywood Reporter. "Barring a miracle, he will not be at the Oscars with me. We are artists and we just want to share our stories and nothing more. It's very sad he won't have an opportunity to share his."
Abeed and Al-Hattar have a visa application interview scheduled with Syrian authorities on March 2, just two days before the Academy Awards ceremony, according to the report. Even if they were to obtain a visa at that late date, they would run into President Trump's Executive Order 13780, which bans new visa applications from Syrian citizens.
Last Men in Aleppo focuses on the brave civil defense workers known as the White Helmets who try to rescue those injured in relentless bombing campaigns by Russian and Syrian government forces.
Al-Hattar, the White Helmets founding member, told The Hollywood Reporter he had hoped to use the Oscar platform to condemn “Russia, Assad and everyone who represents the authorities and supplies weapons to suppress the people of Syria.”
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.