Oscars 2017 Scandall: Syrian Cameraman For 'The White Helmets' Denied Entry To US For Oscars

A Syrian cinematographer and rescue worker with a US visa has had his passport cancelled and will no longer be able to attend the Academy Awards.

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Right now, Oscar-nominated directors Damien Chazelle and Barry Jenkins, and actors Mahershala and Viola Davis will be making the final touches to their red carpet looks and possible Oscar-winning acceptance speeches, embracing the calm before the storm with their closest family and friends in luxurious hotel rooms across Hollywood, ahead of tonight's Academy Awards.

However, one documentary filmmaker from Syria, whose film is nominated for an Academy Award, will be forced to watch the ceremony from over 7,000 miles away.

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The reason? Politics.

According to the Guardian, Syrian cameraman and rescue worker Khaled Khatib, whose documentary about the civil defence group commonly known as the 'White Helmets' has been nominated for an Oscar, will be unable to attend tonight's ceremony as authorities in the Syrian capital of Damascus have cancelled his passport.

In a statement posted today on Twitter, the White Helmets revealed the Syrian regime – controlled under President Bashar al-Assad who has accused the group of being a front for al-Qaida – has revoked Khatib's passport.

'The Syrian Civil Defence are grateful for the platform the film The White Helmets is providing for their humanitarian message to reach around the world,' read the statement.

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Yesterday, the Syrian native took to Twitter to explain the situation, revealing he was 'sad' to miss the opportunity to travel to the Oscars but there is 'important work to do' in Syria, resulting in several messages of support from those who believe his barring from the US is a grave injustice.

The Associated Press (AP) previously reported the 21-year-old Syrian cinematographer, whose documentary sheds light on the volunteers who risk their lives to save civilians in rebel-held parts of Syria, had been barred entry to the US by immigration authorities.

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At the time, AP reported that it had seen internal Trump administration correspondence that revealed the Department of Homeland Security had decided 'at the last minute to block Khaled Khateeb from traveling to Los Angeles for the Oscars', despite the fact he was originally given a visa by the US to visit the country.

If the 40-minuted Netflix documentary wins in the Oscars short subject documentary category this evening, the award will go to director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara, along with several cinematographers behind the film.

Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

Last year, the White Helmets were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition for their service and help, rescuing an estimated 60,000 people, according to Time magazine, and working under the threat of assassination by Assad's forces.

The news comes as directors from five films dominated for Best Foreign Language film at tonight's Oscars have penned a joint statement, condemning the rise of nationalism and intolerance.

In the statement, the nominees have called out the 'fanaticism and nationalism' they see today in the US and around the world and dedicate the award as a 'symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts'.

Their words read: 'These divisive walls prevent people from experiencing something simple but fundamental: from discovering that we are all not so different.'

We couldn't agree more.

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