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Oscar-nominated Syrian cinematographer barred from entering the U.S.

Members of the White Helmets, the subjects of the Oscar-nominated documentary short. (Photo: Mohamed Al-Bakour/AFP/Getty Images)

Variety reports that Khaled Khateeb, a Syrian cinematographer whose Netflix-distributed short film, The White Helmets, is currently in the running for Best Documentary Short Subject at tomorrow night’s Oscars, has been barred from entering the United States to attend the ceremony.

Syria is one of seven countries that were targeted by the travel and immigration ban imposed by President Donald Trump in the first week of his administration. (At the time, it was assumed that none of The White Helmets’ subjects or crew would be able to attend the ceremony.) While that executive order has since been struck down in the courts, the Associated Press reports that U.S. officials apparently found “derogatory information” lodged against Khateeb, leading the Department Of Homeland Security to bar him from entering the States.


The White Helmets—directed by Orlando von Einsiedel—tells the story of first responders operating in Syria, the first on the scene when bombs drop every day as part of the country’s ongoing civil war. Khateeb issued a statement earlier this week about the impact of the film’s Oscar nomination, saying, “If we win this award, it will show people across Syria that people around the world support them. It will give courage to every volunteer who wakes up every morning to run towards bombs.”

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