Syrian Subject of Oscar-Nominated Short Able to Attend Ceremony After Appeals Court Ruling on Travel Ban

Hala Kamil, one of the subject of 'Watani: My Homeland,' will be able to attend the Feb. 26 awards show with director Marcel Mettelsiefen.

Hala Kamil, the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary short Watani: My Homeland, will be able to attend the Feb. 26 awards show with director Marcel Mettelsiefen.

Following the signing of an executive order by President Donald Trump outlining an immigration and travel ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries, which includes an indefinite ban on Syria, it was uncertain if Kamil would be able to attend the Oscars. Two weeks ago, a U.S. district judge issued a restraining order on the ban, and last week a federal appeals panel ruled 3-0 to uphold the suspension of Trump’s ban.

For Watani, Mettelsiefen spent three years with the family, documenting their journey from active fighters to political refugees. Kamil, a Syrian refugee that currently resides in Germany with her four children, was on the front lines of the civil war in Aleppo, supporting the Free Syrian Army in which her husband, Abu Ali, was a commander. After Ali was abducted by ISIS militants, Hala and her children fled to Turkey and, ultimately, landed in Germany.

"When I heard that I might have the opportunity of attending the Oscars to represent Watani: My Homeland, I felt incredibly proud and happy but bittersweet," said Kamil in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "The first thing that came to my mind was my husband and soul mate. Abu Ali, and I would stay up late every year to watch the Oscars live on television."

She added: "I want to tell the world about a small country called Syria, a country that has been burnt alive, its people torn up from the soil they once thrived on. All this destruction and displacement needs the concerted effort of the whole world working together, to help these people back to their roots, the roots they hold so dear."

While Kamil already has her flight booked to Los Angeles, it is still unclear if the Syrian subject of another Oscar-nominated doc short, The White Helmets, will attend the Oscars. Director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara want to bring the head of the White Helmets, also known as the Syrian Civil Defense, Raed Saleh, and the young volunteer who acted as the film's cinematographer, Khaled Khateeb, to the ceremony.

See Kamil's full statement below.

When I heard that I might have the opportunity of attending the Oscars to represent Watani: My Homeland, I felt incredibly proud and happy but bittersweet.   The first thing that came to me mind was my husband and soul mate. Abu Ali, and I would stay up late every year to watch the Oscars live on television.  Sipping coffee together as we always did, we’d try to recall the names of all the famous actors and actresses as they graced the red carpet, in complete awe of this huge event.

To think that over three years after I last saw my husband, I’ll be traveling to that same ceremony we watched together, brings tears to my eye. But to be reminded of what I have lost is also a reminder of what I have held on to; my four children.”

It’s also a reminder of what keeps me strong, and what drives me to speak up for beloved homeland and its people.

Traveling to the United States is a very important step forward for me, to have the opportunity to reach so many people with my message of peace, unity and understanding is so invaluable, and I'm so grateful to have this chance. 

I want to tell the world about a small country called Syria, a country that has been burnt alive, its people torn up from the soil they once thrived on. All this destruction and displacement needs the concerted effort of the whole world working together, to help these people back to their roots, the roots they hold so dear. All these people want is peace and the right to live.

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