Syrian Netflix Film 'White Helmets' Wins Oscar; Cinematographer Barred From U.S.

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This image released by Netflix shows a scene from the documentary "White Helmets."
This image released by Netflix shows a scene from the documentary "White Helmets." Credit: Netflix/AP

"The White Helmets," a Syrian film, took home the Oscar in the Best Documentary Short category on Sunday, though one of its cinematographers was blocked from entering the U.S. for the ceremony.

The Netflix film documents the actions of a group of Syrians who volunteer as rescuers and first responders after bombings perpetrated during the country's ongoing civil war. 

Twenty-one-year-old cinematographer Khaled Khateeb, whose life was often in danger during the making of the film, had acquired a U.S. visa in order to attend the Oscars, but was informed Saturday that U.S. officials had found "derogatory information" connected to him and that he would not be able to enter the country.

The block was seemingly the result of new controversial travel regulations installed by U.S. President Donald Trump that sought to ban entry to all citizens, including refugees, from several Muslim-majority countries including Syria. Parts of the original executive order were put on hold by federal courts but entries from the countries in question remained down nonetheless.

Khateeb was not the only Middle Easterner and Oscar winner who didn't attend the ceremony in connection to Trump administration's travel restrictions.

Asghar Farhadi, an Iranian director who's film "The Salesman" won for Best Foreign Language Film, decided to boycott the Academy Awards in protest over Trump's policies.

Upon winning the Oscar, a surrogate for the director blasted Trump in Farhadi's name describing Trump's attempt to ban immigration from predominantly Muslim countries as "inhumane."

"Dividing the world into 'us' and 'our enemies' categories creates fear, a deceitful justification for aggression and war," said the statement read in Farhadi's name.

The Oscars were anticipated this year in particular due to the political climate, but perhaps the most notable moment of the evening came at the end when presenter Warren Beatty mistakenly announced that "La La Land" had won for Best Picture, only to be corrected by the film's producer moments later. "Moonlight" was the real winner and the card with the film's name was held up to the cameras to prove it - but only after the crew of "La La Land" had taken the stage to accept their awards.

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