Toronto Festival Expresses Concern Over Filmmaker Arrest in Syria

Orwa Nyrabia - P 2012
Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

Orwa Nyrabia - P 2012

The indie film producer and head of Damascus' Dox Box fest Orwa Nyrabia is feared in the hands of the intelligence services after disappearing before a planned flight to Cairo.

TORONTO -- The Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday added its voice to mounting international concern over the fate of Orwa Nyrabia, the Syrian film producer and director of the Dox Box documentary festival in Damascus. 

Nyrabia was apparently arrested on Aug. 23 at the Damascus airport, on his way to Cairo.

“We are extremely concerned by his arrest -- filmmakers must be allowed to express themselves through their films, without fear of reprisal,” the festival said in a statement Thursday in the wake of reports Nyrabia is being detained by Syrian intelligence services.

Nyrabia’s wife and fellow film producer Diana al Jeiroudi earlier issued a statement in which she said she lost contact with her husband after his arrival at Damascus International Airport.

“According to Egyptian Airlines, he did not board the plane, which indicates that he was arrested by the Syrian authorities at the airport,” al Jeiroudi's statement said.

Nyrabia has produced films in Syria, including for the French-German television channel, Arté.

He has also served on the jury of the Amsterdam, Tehran, Leipzig and Copenhagen documentary film festivals.