WASHINGTON – A young Syrian cinematographer, who filmed Netflix’s Oscar-nominated documentary The White Helmets, has been denied entry into the US for the Academy Awards.
Khaled Khateeb, 21, was set to join The White Helmets leader Raed Saleh at the Oscars, where the documentary is nominated in the Best Documentary (Short Subject) category, and was scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles on Saturday.
However, the Department of Homeland Security blocked Khateeb from entering the United States, citing “derogatory information” about the cinematographer – a vague term that could be applied to everything from terrorist threats to a passport irregularity.
The White Helmets is a 40-minute documentary about the titular force The White Helmets, also called the Syrian Civil Defense. The film, which has been nominated for Best Short this year, profiles the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated warriors who have saved more than 60,000 civilian lives in war-torn Syria.
This is the second time that Khateeb has borne the brunt of Trump’s politics.
Earlier, when Trump’s proposed travel ban prohibited entry into the U.S. from seven predominately Muslim countries, including Syria, it looked “unlikely” that Khateeb would be able to attend the Oscars in Los Angeles.
But when Trump’s ban was overturned, Khateeb announced he would be attending the Oscars. “It is important that people understand that Syria has people who want the same things that they want: peace, jobs, family and to live without the fear of bombs,” he had said. “This is what I hope the film does.”
The White Helmets director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara will represent the film at Sunday’s ceremony, Al Jazeera reports.
In January, The Salesman director Asghar Farhadi, nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category, announced he would skip the Oscars over Trump’s travel ban. The filmmakers in the Foreign Language Film category penned a joint statement Friday decrying the “nationalism and fanaticism” currently sweeping the U.S.