Raed Saleh, the leader of the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Syrian rescue group the White Helmets and subject of Netflix’s Oscar-nominated documentary The White Helmets, will travel to the U.S. for the Academy Awards ceremony on February 26.
Saleh’s attendance had been an open question since President Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban limiting access from seven Muslim-majority countries.
“We are eagerly looking forward to coming to the Oscars,” Saleh says in a statement released by Netflix. “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.”
The White Helmets director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara, said in a joint 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 honour 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.”
Khaled Khatib, an active White Helmet and Syrian national who is the cinematographer of the documentary and was invited by the filmmakers to attend the Oscars, says he intends to attend as well. “I plan to travel to L.A. for the Oscars, where the film is nominated for an award. If we win this award, it will show people across Syria that people around the world support them. It will give courage to every volunteer who wakes up every morning to run towards bombs.”
The White Helmets is currently available on Netflix.