'Last Men in Aleppo' Director Signs With Black Box Management (Exclusive)

Firas Fayyad - Getty - H 2018
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Feras Fayyad's film is an Oscar nominee for best documentary feature.

Last Men in Aleppo writer-director Feras Fayyad has signed with Los Angeles-based Black Box Management, The Hollywood Reporter has exclusively learned. The film, about three White Helmet rescue volunteers in the Syrian civil war, is one of five nominees competing for best documentary feature at the Academy Awards on Sunday. Fayyad is the first Syrian to be nominated for an Oscar.

"When we first saw Last Men in Aleppo, we immediately knew Feras was someone we had to work with," Black Box founders Mike Dill and Lowell Shapiro said in a joint statement. "It is rare to work with a filmmaker who truly is creating work for a purpose higher than himself, his family and his country. What Feras has exposed is the best and worst qualities of humanity, in an effort to help create change. It is our belief that as a storyteller and humanitarian, he has the ability to apply this purpose to new and meaningful narrative and documentary works."

Fayyad's documentaries about his home country have placed him in danger. He told THR in January that an earlier film, On the Other Side, resulted in his arrest and torture over a nine-month period spanning 2011 and 2012.

"Representing someone who feels their life is in danger is a unique position to find ourselves in," Dill and Shapiro said in a joint statement. "It makes our professional goals for Feras all the more important because not only do we want to see him be successful, we also want him to know that he is supported by our industry and community. Hearing him say things like he is not afraid to die or that driving through traffic on the 405 is nothing compared to dodging sniper fire is all very sobering. We are not only dealing with an artist, we are dealing with life and death."

The filmmaker will attend the Oscars on Sunday alongside his documentary's Syrian producer, Kareem Abeed, who was previously denied a visa to enter the United States from his home in Turkey. With the Academy's support, Abeed successfully appealed the visa request with the U.S. State Department. But one of Last Men's remaining living subjects, White Helmets co-founder Mahmoud Al-Hattar was denied a passport by the Syrian government and will not attend.