Pic: Stine Heilmann
In a Facebook post of December 29 2019 Syrian director Feras Fayyad expressed his frustration at being refused a visa to the US ahead of the upcoming Academy Awards campaign. He currently resides in Copenhagen.
Fayyad’s The Cave is shortlisted in the 2020 Documentary Feature category. In the film the director returns to his native, war-torn Syria to follow a dedicated team of female doctors who tirelessly treat casualties in an underground hospital, all the time battling systemic sexism.
The film world-premiered at TIFF 2019 where it won the People’s Choice Award for Documentaries.
In 2019 Fayyad was nominated in the Academy Award Documentary Feature category for Last Men in Aleppo.
“I find the documentary platform is the only way to use my right in freedom of expression to speak out for my right in the justice and for what’s happened to my country, to my people and to my family,” Fayyad posted.
“I should be attending the IDA (International Documentary Association) and Cinema Eye Honours, where I am also a nominee, alongside [a number of] events to represent The Cave […] but I can’t because of the visa,” he added.
“It’s happened and it’s not my choice to [be] born in Syria, I’m [a] filmmaker and all what I want [is] to have the opportunity to tell this story in person for everyone and I feel sad because I can’t be in person in many screening[s] that [are] happening right now for the Oscar shortlist,” he continued.
“Now the only way to feel […] like I’m there in person is to have your solidarity in watching The Cave to face this unfair situation, please give The Cave this opportunity and go watch it in cinema.”
“This will be great solidarity, this will make me feel I’m there and didn’t left behind and I’ll appreciate it,” his post concluded.
Sundance senior programmer David Courier posted on Facebook December 30 2019: “This story is infuriating. For those of us who know and love Feras we know that besides being an extraordinarily talented filmmaker, he’s a profoundly inspiring and benevolent human being. Last Men in Aleppo won our Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. His latest film The Cave is shortlisted for the Oscar. We need to fight the bigotry that is keeping one of the world’s most celebrated and beloved documentary filmmakers from getting his much deserved seat at our table. Much love to you Feras. I will fight to make this right in any way I can. I ask all of the Documentary community and anyone who gives a damn about human rights to join this fight.”