Academy Supports ‘Last Men in Aleppo’ Team After Travel Ban
By Pat Mullen
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has given its support to the team behind Last Men in Aleppo. The film is a nominee for Best Documentary Feature in this year’s Oscar race. The Academy released a statement yesterday noting that Aleppo producer Kareem Abeed would not be able to attend the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, March 4 after being denied a travel visa. Film subject and White Helmets founding member Mahmoud Al-Hattar was also denied a visa to travel to the USA. The Hollywood Reporter first reported news that they would be unable to attend the Oscars due to the travel ban.
The Academy noted that Last Men in Aleppo made history as the first nominee for Best Documentary Feature by a Syrian director and producer. “For 90 years, the Oscars have celebrated achievement in the art of filmmaking, which seeks to transcend borders and speak to audiences around the world, regardless of national, ethnic, or religious differences,” the Academy said in a statement.
Last Men in Aleppo director Feras Fayyad, who lives in California and Copenhagen, will be present at the Oscars. “Barring a miracle, [Kareem Abeed] will not be at the Oscars with me,” Fayyad told THR. “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.” Last Men in Aleppo has encountered resistance on the campaign trail with The Guardian previously reporting efforts by Russia to undermine Fayyad’s credibility.
Oscar’s support for the Last Men in Aleppo team coincided with the beginning of the final round of Oscar voting and may tip some favour towards the doc in an extremely competitive race. Last year, White Helmets cinematographer Khaled Khatib was denied a visa and unable to celebrate the film’s Oscar win for Best Documentary (Short Subject) with the team, while Iranian director Asghar Farhadi won his second Academy Award in the Best Foreign Language Film category for The Salesman after refusing to attend the ceremony in protest of Trump’s travel ban.
Read the full statement from the Academy below:
Director Feras Fayyad and producer Kareem Abeed made history with Last Men in Aleppo, the first Documentary Feature Oscar nominee from a Syrian directing-producing team. For 90 years, the Oscars have celebrated achievement in the art of filmmaking, which seeks to transcend borders and speak to audiences around the world, regardless of national, ethnic, or religious differences. As supporters of filmmakers — and the human rights of all people — around the globe, we stand in solidarity with Fayyad as well as the film’s producer Kareem Abeed, who was denied a visa to the United States to attend the Academy Awards on March 4.