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Syrian Cinematographer Barred From Entering U.S. to Attend Oscars

Variety logo Variety 2/25/2017 Variety Staff
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A 21-year-old cinematographer from Syria has been denied entry to the U.S. for Sunday’s Academy Awards.

Khaled Khateeb, the cinematographer behind Netflix’s “The White Helmets,” which is nominated for the documentary short award, is said to have been blocked from entering the country by the Department of Homeland Security.

The Associated Press reports that U.S. officials found “derogatory information” against the young cameraman before his Saturday flight from Istanbul to Los Angeles.

Syria was one of the seven countries that was targeted by Donald Trump’s so-called Muslim Ban that prevented refugees from entering the country. Trump is set to introduce a new travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries after the initial one was struck down by federal courts.

“The White Helmets,” a 40-minute documentary short film about the Syrian Civil Defense, better known as the White Helmets, which has has been credited with saving more than 60,000 people from the bombed buildings in war-torn Syria, is being adapted into a feature film by George Clooney.

Clooney has also promoted the doc in recent months. The Oscar-winner, a staunch Democrat, ripped President Trump at the Cesar Awards in France Friday, saying that “the actions of this president have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies and given considerable comfort to our enemies.”

Earlier in the week, Clooney called Trump, along with chief adviser Steve Bannon, “Hollywood elitists.”

CNN published a lengthy interview with the young filmmaker on Thursday night about his documentary.

Khateeb had planned on attending the ceremony with his “White Helmets” director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara.

“If we win this award, it will show people across Syria that people around the world support them,” he said in an earlier statement. “It will give courage to every volunteer who wakes up every morning to run towards bombs.”

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