Tuesday 23 January 2018

Syrian refugee featured in Oscar-nominated film may miss ceremony due to travel ban

Hala Kamil speaking at the United Nations' World Humanitarian Day event in New York last year. Image: YouTube
Hala Kamil speaking at the United Nations' World Humanitarian Day event in New York last year. Image: YouTube
President Donald Trump smiles after signing three executive actions in the Oval Office, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Scriptwriter Asghar Farhadi, winner of the award for Best Script for the movie « The Salesman » , attends the Palme D'Or Winner Press Conference on May 22, 2016 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Amy Mulvaney

Amy Mulvaney

A Syrian refugee featured in an Oscar-nominated film may miss the ceremony due to President Donald Trump's immigration ban.

The film, Watani: My Homeland, is nominated in the Best Documentary (Short Subject) category and follows the journey of a Syrian family over three years as they try to escape war-torn Aleppo and start a new life in Germany.

However, following the introduction of Trump's "extreme vetting" order, Hala Kamil, the mother of the family, may not be able to travel to the US to attend the Academy Awards in February.

A spokesperson for the film told People that the director of the film, Marcel Mettelsiefen, invited Hala to accompany him to the Oscars, although now it remains unclear if she will be able to attend.

President Donald Trump smiles after signing three executive actions in the Oval Office, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump smiles after signing three executive actions in the Oval Office, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“It is currently unclear if Hala, the courageous mother in the film, will be able to attend the ceremony due to President Trump’s travel ban. If she is able to enter the country, she plans to attend with the filmmaking team.”

“This is a fluid situation and many people are working diligently in the hopes that Hala may attend the ceremony,” added the spokesperson.

Mettelsiefen said in a statement that the travel ban 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," he said.

"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.”

Watani: My Homeland is at least one of three nominated films affected by the ban, as Oscar-nominated director Asghar Farhadi, from Iran, is also unable to attend the ceremony.

Farhadi is a multi-award winning Iranian director and writer. His film, The Salesman, is nominated for Best Foreign Language Film representing Iran.

He was nominated for a screenwriting Oscar for A Separation, which won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2012. The film made history by becoming the first Iranian film to win an Academy Award.

Scriptwriter Asghar Farhadi, winner of the award for Best Script for the movie « The Salesman » , attends the Palme D'Or Winner Press Conference on May 22, 2016 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Scriptwriter Asghar Farhadi, winner of the award for Best Script for the movie « The Salesman » , attends the Palme D'Or Winner Press Conference on May 22, 2016 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

One of the stars of the film, Taraneh Alidoosti, had previously announced she would boycott the Oscars due to the impending visa restrictions placed on Iran.

The order bars the entry of foreign nationals from certain countries for 90 days. While no countries are specifically named in the order, it refers to a statute that would apply to seven Muslim-majority nations: Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq and a 120-day suspension of the US refugee programme.

Travellers from those nations were either barred from getting on their flights or detained at US airports after they landed, including tourists, foreign students and people trying to visit friends and family.

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