'The White Helmets' cinematographer can't attend Oscars
A 21-year-old Syrian cinematographer who worked on the Oscar nominated film, "The White Helmets," which highlights the work of Syria’s civil defence first responders, has been denied entry into the US to attend the Academy Awards.
The Department of Homeland Security blocked Khaled Khateeb from travelling to Los Angeles at the last minute, the Associated Press reported.
Khateeb was scheduled to arrive Saturday in Los Angeles on a Turkish Airlines flight departing from Istanbul, but his plans were upended after US officials reported finding "derogatory information," according to AP.
Derogatory information is a broad category that can include anything from terror connections to passport irregularities.
Asked for comment, Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security told AP, "A valid travel document is required for travel to the United States."
"The White Helmets," a 40-minute Netflix documentary, has been nominated for Best Documentary Short.
If the film wins the Oscar, the award would go to director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara.
Khateeb is one of three people credited for cinematography; Franklin Dow is the film's director of photography.
The film focuses on the rescue workers who risk their lives to save Syrians affected by civil war.
Many of the group's members have been killed by Syrian President Bashar Assad's air forces. The group also was nominated for last year's Nobel Peace Prize.
"The White Helmets" includes emblematic scenes of the deadly 6-year-old conflict: people digging through destroyed homes looking for survivors, at constant risk of "double tap" attacks that target first responders after they've arrived at the scene of a strike.
Khateeb had been issued a visa to attend the ceremony with Hollywood's biggest stars.
But Turkish authorities detained him this week, according to the internal US government correspondence, and he suddenly needed a passport waiver from the United States to enter the country.
The correspondence indicated he would not receive such a waiver. There was no explanation in the correspondence for why Turkey detained Khateeb.