Entertainment

Syria's White Helmets members to attend Academy Awards

Two members of Syria's White Helmets humanitarian organization, the subject of an Academy Award-nominated film, will be attending the Oscars Feb. 26 in Los Angeles.

Leader of humanitarian group, cinematographer have acquired visas following U.S. travel ban halt

The Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, operate in the country's war-ravaged opposition areas, where they are exposed daily to bombs dropped by government and Russian warplanes. The group is the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary. (Syria Civil Defence via Associated Press)

Two members of Syria's White Helmets humanitarian organization, which is the subject of an Academy Award-nominated film, are set to attend the Oscars Feb. 26 in Los Angeles.

The head of the group, Raed Saleh, and the cinematographer behind the short film, Khaled Khatib, have received U.S. visas following a halt to the U.S. administration's immigration order, which affected those travelling from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran and Syria.

We remain cautious about the physical part of entering the country.- Joanna Natasegara, The White Helmets producer

The White Helmets, nominated for best documentary short, follows the dangerous and life-saving work of emergency rescue teams in the middle of Syria's ongoing civil war.

Saleh told the AFP news agency that they're not sure how difficult travel will be and "don't want to have problems at the borders or the airport."

"They both have valid visas," said producer Joanna Natasegara. "We remain cautious about the physical part of entering the country."
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi says he won't attend the Oscars despite a halt to the U.S. administration's travel ban involving seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran and Syria. (Michel Euler/The Associated Press)

While the filmmakers behind The White Helmets hope to raise awareness about the subject matter through the group's presence at the awards, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi is taking a stand against the policy through his absence.

Despite a halt to the executive order, Farhadi, who directed the Oscar-nominated film The Salesman and won an Academy Award for A Separation in 2012, said he will not attend this year's ceremony in protest. The star of The Salesman, Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti, is also skipping the show. The film is competing in the foreign language category.

U.S. President Donald Trump said a new version of the executive order could come as early as this week.

With files from Reuters

now