Netflix’s The White Helmets, a film about the Syrian rescue group of the same name, won best documentary short at Sunday’s Oscars ceremony over fellow nominees Extremis, 4.1 Miles, Joe’s Violin, and Watani: My Homeland.
Producer Joanna Natasegara first thanked the Academy, her work family, and “most of all, thank you to the White Helmets.”
Director Orlando von Einsiedel then read a message from the head of the White Helmets, Raed Saleh, who was unable to attend: “We are so grateful that this film has highlighted our work to the world. Our organization is guided by a verse in the Qu’ran: ‘To save one life is to save all of humanity.’ We have saved more than 82,000 civilian lives. I invite anyone here who hears me to work on the side of life to stop the bloodshed in Syria and around the world.”
Von Einsiedel then asked a favor of the crowd of A-listers: “It’s very easy for these guys to feel they’re forgotten. This war has been going on for six years. If everyone could just stand up and remind them that we all care that this war ends as quickly as possible.”
The film’s cinematographer, Khaled Khateeb, was barred from entering the U.S. on Friday to attend the Oscars. Prior to the ceremony, Khateeb said, “If I cannot enter the U.S., I will not give up: We know that we have many friends in the U.S., that there are people that share our humanitarian values. I look forward to meeting them all one day.”
The White Helmets are a group of volunteers that according to their website have saved more than 78,000 lives on all sides of the Syria conflict. They were nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize this past year.
The White Helmets is now streaming on Netflix.