'White Helmets' to Attend Oscars as Trump Ban Stalls

Leader and cinematographer of Oscar-nominated documentary short about Syrian rescue squad will come to Los Angeles for February 26th ceremony

With Trump's "Muslim ban" stalled, 'The White Helmets' filmmakers announced that two members of the Syrian rescue unit would attend the Oscars.
'White Helmets' to Attend Oscars as Trump Ban Stalls

With Donald Trump's "Muslim ban" currently stalled by federal circuit courts, the filmmakers behind the Oscar-nominated The White Helmets announced Friday that two members of the Syrian rescue unit would attend the Academy Awards on February 26th.

In late January, filmmakers said they scuttled plans to bring two White Helmets members to the ceremony, where the film is nominated for Best Documentary (Short Subject), because of Trump's executive order banning visitors from seven countries, including Syria.

However, because a Washington state court grounded the executive order, the White Helmets leader Raed Saleh and member-cinematographer Khaled Khatib will attend the Oscars.

"We are eagerly looking forward to coming to the Oscars," Saleh said in a statement. "It will give us an important platform for the voices of Syrian children and women trapped under the rubble as a result of the airstrikes and artillery shelling, and for the voices of thousands of displaced Syrians who have been forced from their homes."

White Helmets director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara added in a statement, "We are utterly delighted at the prospect of Raed Saleh, the head of the White Helmets, and Khaled Khatib joining us on the red carpet at the Oscars. The White Helmets are among the most inspiring humanitarians we have ever known and it is the greatest honor to share a global platform where their incredible work can be recognized. They are not yet on U.S. soil, and we await their arrival with a tense anticipation. In these uncertain times, their story is one of the most moving of our generation. We stand ready to welcome them."

The White Helmets is streaming now on Netflix.

The film's subjects weren't the only ones affected by the executive order. Soon after Trump's travel ban, the Syrian family at the heart of Watani: My Homeland, a fellow Best Documentary (Short Subject) nominee, doubted they would be able to attend this year's Oscars, even though they are now German citizens. Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category for The Salesman, also stated he would not travel to Los Angeles for the Oscars due to Trump's executive order.

However, with Trump's ban currently in limbo, it's unclear if those plans have changed.