AceShowbiz - Filmmaker Alex Gibney and fellow members of the International Documentary Association are urging U.S. authorities to reconsider their visa denial for "The Cave" director Feras Fayyad ahead of the Oscars.
Syrian-born Fayyad recently applied for a new permit to visit America to promote "The Cave", which is in contention for an Oscar nomination, but his request was shut down at the U.S. embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he lives in exile not long after he was granted permission for a previous three-month visa in September (19).
The immigration official who handled his case cited President Donald Trump's 2017 executive order prohibiting citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations, including Syria, from entering the country as part of an effort to "protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States".
Now IDA members have signed an open letter addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, calling on him to make an exception for Fayyad.
"Feras Fayyad is a respected and accomplished documentary filmmaker, but because he is Syrian he has been denied a visa to visit the United States in support of his latest film, 'The Cave', distributed by National Geographic Documentary Films," reads the letter, sent to Pompeo on Friday (January 03).
"The film tells an urgent story of doctors saving lives while under constant bombardment in Syria."
IDA's executive director, Simon Kilmurray, cannot understand why Fayyad is only now facing immigration troubles: "It's appalling that Feras has been denied a visa," he tells Deadline.com. "There's really no good excuse for it. (He's) been coming back and forth to the U.S. for quite a while and to deny him entry now, it's just crazy."
"The Cave" is one of 15 feature documentaries still in the running for the Best Documentary Academy Award.
Fayyad previously made history in 2018 when he became the first Syrian filmmaker to land an Oscar nod for his film "Last Men in Aleppo".
The producer of that project, fellow Syrian Kareem Abeed, was also been denied a visa to attend Hollywood's big night until a last-minute reversal - championed by IDA chiefs - allowed him to make it to the U.S. just in time to attend the 2018 Academy Awards.