"White Helmets" wins best short doc at Oscars

The head of the Syrian search-and-rescue group featured in the Oscar-winning Netflix documentary "The White Helmets" says the award is an inspiration and a huge moral support for the volunteers to keep up their mission in the war-torn country.

The White Helmets, directed by Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara, took home the award for best documentary short at the 89th annual Academy Awards on Sunday.

The 21-year-old Khatib was to arrive in Los Angeles through a Turkish flight on Saturday, a day before the big night.

But according to an internal Trump administration correspondence seen by the Associated Press, the Department of Homeland Security blocked his entry due to "derogatory information", which can range from terrorist connections to passport issues.

Asked to explain, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security told the AP only that "a valid travel document is required for travel to the United States".

Khatib, however, despite having a visa, was barred from entering the US, a move that was "sad and confusing", according to the film's producer Joanna Natasegara, who was present to collect the award.

The White Helmets shows the danger the Syrian Civil Defense team face daily to save lives.

It ended 2016 with almost 94 million subscribers, adding five million outside the United States in the last three months of the year.

On Monday morning, a statement posted on the group's Twitter page said that its members continued their life saving work on the ground, specifically in rebel-held Idlib province during the award ceremony.

Netflix started streaming TV in the United States nearly a decade ago and has now launched in almost every country.

Farhadi opted not to attend the Oscars in protest of the executive order.

Earlier, when Trump's proposed travel ban prohibited entry into the US from seven predominately Muslim countries, including Syria, it looked "unlikely" that Khateeb would be able to attend the Oscars in Los Angeles.

Another worldwide missing face at the Oscars was Iranian director Asghar Fahadi, whose film, The Salesman, took home the prize for best foreign film.

Khaled Khatib, a White Helmets volunteer and cameraman on the film, was also due to attend.

"Human rights are not something you have to apply for", the directors wrote.

  • Jacqueline Ellis