Hussein Hassan, a filmmaker based in Kurdistan, Iraq, has withdrawn his visa application to attend the U.S. premiere of his film in protest of Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim policies.
The news was announced by Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival, which still plans to screen Hassan’s Reseba (a.k.a. The Dark Wind) despite the director’s absence.
“Hussein Hassan shot his film Reseba – The Dark Wind at the front line of the war between the Kurds and the so called Islamic State. Hussein Hassan risked everything to present the true face of the war,” the film’s producer Mehmet Aktas said in a statement. “Hassan is not a fighter at the front line, he fights with his artistic soul against terrorism and crimes.”
He continued, “The U.S. are the closest and most important allies for Kurdistan. Now it seems to be impossible for a Kurdish artist to visit the U.S. to present his work. As an act of peaceful protest, Hussein Hassan decided to withdraw from his visa application. We as Kurdish filmmakers hope that Donald Trump will acknowledge the Kurdish people.”
According to Reuters, Trump is expected to sign an executive order blocking the entrance of immigrants from Middle Eastern countries Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Yemen.
A rep for the festival confirmed to EW that Hassan was already having issues entering the country for the film premiere. Festival director Jaie Laplante explained to IndieWire, “We got an email from his producer on Tuesday saying there were all these unusual delays. He has applied for visas in the past at the U.S. consulate and received an answer in two days.”
In a separate statement, Laplante reinforced the organization’s “core values,” which are “to bridge cultural understanding, to provoke thought and discussion.” He added, “It is essential that roadblocks not be put in place that will prevent artists from the free discussion of their work, and equally essential that the world’s artists are made to feel welcome in the United States.”
Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti, star of the Oscar-nominated The Salesman, is reportedly making a similar protest of the U.S. President. “Trump’s visa ban for Iranians is racist. Whether this will include a cultural event or not, I won’t attend the #AcademyAwards 2017 in protest,” she tweeted, according to reports. However, a rep for The Salesman told EW they can’t confirm whether the unverified Twitter account actually belongs to Alidoosti.