EXCLUSIVE: Kamal Ramadan and Mohamed Chakado, the stars of Venice Critics’ Week entry aKasha, have been refused departure from Uganda and will be unable to attend the world premiere screening of the debut feature here today, and possibly not at TIFF on September 9. The Sudan nationals arrived in Kampala on April 30 and applied for refugee status on June 11, we are told by representatives of the movie, but have not been granted the necessary papers. We are also told the producer of the film, Steven Markovitz (Rafiki), has written to the United Nations’ Refugee Agency, UNHCR, and is waiting for a reply.

Sudanese director Hajooj Kuka is the founder of Refugee Club. His last film, 2014’s Beats Of The Antonov, won the Documentary People’s Choice Award in Toronto that year.

AKasha is described as an offbeat love story set in a time of civil war that explores life and ideology in rebel-held areas of Sudan. According to the TIFF notes, the film blends wry observational moments with cleverly written comedy, creating a rarely seen take on conflict and love. Check out the exclusive trailer above.

Kuka and Markovitz said in a statement provided to Deadline, “Kamal and Mohamed are the two male leads in the film who also worked as part of the production team. They have been through incredible difficulty making this film and we were hoping to celebrate the first public screening with them. It is important for artists to be able to share their work with the public and it is very disappointing that the actors will not attend the world premiere in Venice nor the North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. In this time of closing borders, it’s crucial that artists’ work helps to open up understanding of each other.”