Netflix's 'The White Helmets' About Syrian Crisis Takes Home First Oscar Win

Netflix's film 'The White Helmets', the story of volunteer rescue workers in Syria, took home the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Sunday.  The victory was a wonderful first win for Netflix, distributor of the film. 

The 40-minute film follows three rescue workers with the White Helmets -- also known as the Syrian Civil Defense -- who train in Turkey to provide emergency medical assistance to civilians caught in Syria's civil war.

AOC has tracked in the month of Feb. efforts to bring cinematographer and press officer for the White Helmets Khaled Khatib to the US.  The leader of the White Helmets Raed Saleh was also unable to obtain the necessary travel documents. There is no doubt that the two men were originally caught up in the Trump administration's Muslim ban.  The situation appeared to be on the verge of resolution but fell apart again days before the Oscars. 

Everyone -- including LA-based 'White Helmets' director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara who accepted the Oscar, have taken the high road as claims that the Syrian government eventually became part of the problem -- are ignoring the travel documents controversy and focusing on the Oscar win on behalf of the war-ravaged Syrian people. 

Related Feb. 17, 2017

"They are not yet on US soil, and we await their arrival with tense anticipation," said the filmmakers of Raed Saleh and Khaled Khateeb. "In these uncertain times, their story is one of the most moving of our generation. We stand ready to welcome them."

On Wednesday, the outlook was grim that the key figures in the Netflix film 'The White Helmets' would obtain the necessary paperwork to gain US visas in time for the Oscars. In 48 hours since Hollywood Reporter and websites far and wide rallied around the issue, the situation has improved dramatically. 

“We are eagerly looking forward to coming to the Oscars," said Saleh in a statement. "It will give us an important platform for the voices of Syrian children and women trapped under the rubble as a result of the airstrikes and artillery shelling, and for the voices of thousands of displaced Syrians who have been forced from their homes.”

“It is so important that people see the film. It is important that people understand that Syria has people who want the same things they want: peace, jobs, family and to live without the fear of bombs," added Khateeb. "If we win this award, it will show people across Syria that people around the world support them. It will give courage to every volunteer who wakes up every morning to run towards bombs."

Related Feb. 15, 2017

There is deep concern in Hollywood that key international talents will not be present for the Academy Awards due to President Trump's executive order banning Syrians and others from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. 

Director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara's  Netflix film 'The White Helmets' is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. But it appears that the real heroes of the documentary will not be present at the Oscars. 

Every day in Syria, a group of ordinary, unarmed civilian volunteers known as the White Helmets risk their lives to help rescue men, women, and children injured by the incessant air raids destroying the country. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016, the apolitical White Helmets are credited with saving more than 75,000 people since 2012. 

Now it appears unlikely that Raed Saleh, the leader of the White Helmets, and Khaled Khateeb, the photographer who filmed all of the documentary's footage inside Aleppo, will get the necessary travel documents to attend the Oscars. Vogue interviews Einsiedel and Natasegara about their relationship with the White Helmets, and why we must watch their documentary in today's political climate.