After Ban, Syrian Refugee Will Get To Attend The Oscars For Nominated Documentary

Hala Kamil used to watch the ceremony with her now-missing husband.

A Syrian refugee featured in an Oscar-nominated documentary short will be able to attend the Hollywood ceremony after all. 

The film, “Watani: My Homeland,” chronicles the perilous story of one family’s decision to leave their home in Syria for a Turkish refugee camp and, eventually, Germany. An executive order signed by President Trump prevented all Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days, but the ban is currently on hold.

Hala Kamil fled Aleppo with her four children after her husband, Abu Ali Slaibeh, was captured by militants from the self-titled Islamic State in late 2013. Filmmaker Marcel Mettelsiefen previously told The Huffington Post he began meeting with the family before Slaibeh’s capture, making over 25 trips to Syria in total to document the family’s struggle and eventual admittance to Germany. 

Kamil’s husband is presumed dead. In different times, the couple used to watch the Oscars together.

“Abu Ali and I would stay up late every year to watch the Oscars live on television. Sipping coffee together as we always did, we’d try to recall the names of all the famous actors and actresses as they graced the red carpet, in complete awe of this huge event,” Kamil said in a statement obtained by The Huffington Post about the news that she’d be able to attend the ceremony.

Hala Kamil in the Oscar-nominated documentary short "Watani."
Hala Kamil in the Oscar-nominated documentary short "Watani."

Although she feels “incredibly proud and happy” about representing the film, Kamil called the news “bittersweet.” She hopes attending the Oscars can help her spread a peaceful message about refugees from all over the world, and particularly Syria, “a country that has been burnt alive.”

“All this destruction and displacement needs the concerted effort of the whole world working together, to help these people back to their roots, the roots they hold so dear,” she wrote. “We need people to understand that we are not terrorists despite what the media and the politicians might say, all we are is human.”

In August, Kamil appeared at the United Nations in New York alongside celebrities including Natalie Dormer to highlight the plight of refugees worldwide. Her children, Hammoudi, Helen, Farah and Sara, joined her onstage.

In a video filmed in Germany late last year, Kamil worried she might never see Aleppo again.

“I miss my family, I miss my home, I miss my garden,” she said. “I want sometimes to be in my garden to drink coffee with my husband. But now, I lost this dream.”

The Oscars will air Sunday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. ET on ABC.



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