The subjects of The White Helmets, an Oscar-nominated documentary about the volunteers who rescue victims of attacks in Syria, will not be able to attend the Academy Awards as a result of the executive order President Donald Trump signed Friday restricting immigration to the U.S. from seven majority-Muslim countries and indefinitely barring Syrian refugees from entering the U.S.
“We have always said that if we were to be nominated, we would bring Raed Saleh, the head of the White Helmets, who has spoken many times in D.C., and Khaled Khateeb, the young cinematographer who risked his life over and over again, as our guests,” The White Helmets producer Joanna Natasegara said in a statement. “They’ve been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize — these people are the bravest humanitarians on the planet, and the idea that they could not be able to come with us and enjoy that success is just abhorrent.”
According to the White Helmets’ official website, their volunteers have saved over 78,000 lives. They also provide public services, like distributing safety information, for millions of people.
“The volunteers save people on all sides of the conflict – pledging commitment to the principles of ‘Humanity, Solidarity, Impartiality’ as outlined by the International Civil Defence Organisation,” the website reads. “This pledge guides every response, every action, every life saved – so that in a time of destruction, all Syrians have the hope of a lifeline.”
The White Helmets’ work earned them a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2016. The prize instead went to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his efforts to stop decades-old conflict, but the White Helmets responded to this news with a supportive tweet: “Congratulations to the President of Colombia for the @NobelPrize and we wish the people of Colombia peace.”
The White Helmets is nominated for Best Documentary (Short Subject) at this year’s Oscars alongside Extremis, 4.1 Miles, Joe’s Violin, and Watani: My Homeland. The 40-minute film is now streaming on Netflix, and more information about the organization is available at their official website.
See the trailer above.