Last Men in Aleppo directed by Feras Fayyad follows a group of White Helmets, a civilian crisis group in the then rebel-held titular city, who volunteered to rescue people during incessant bombings by Syrian and Russian forces in 2015-16. It’s the first Syrian feature documentary to be nominated for an Oscar.
The travel ban imposed by the Trump administration, infamous for its hard-line views on immigration, on Syria (and 7 other Muslim countries) prevents the subject of the documentary, Mahmoud Al Hatter from making it to the US. He has also been denied a passport by the Syrian Government, which deems the White Helmets to be a terrorist organisation due to its operation in rebel areas.
As per Al Jazeera, Feras Fayyad claims that the Russian government is trying to sway public opinion and Academy voters by using smear tactics. Following a protracted procedure, the director Fayyad and the producer Kareem Abeed, made it to the US.
The director wrote on Twitter: “Thanks for everyone involved to helping this process and thanks for all the solidarity and the effort from the American friends for facing Trump ban to help us to be with our film.”
Mahmoud told the New York Times that what is happening in Syria is not just a civil war but a revolution for humanity. He is enthusiastic about disseminating his word, dispelling the assumptions about Syria and elaborating on his experiences.
“It is different when you have a message and you deliver it yourself,”Mahmoud told Associated Press (as per a New York Times report)
“This is the message I would love the whole world to know and to reach everyone: This war must stop.”Mahmoud told The Associated Press (as per The Christian Science Monitor)