When President Trump’s unlawful travel ban was enacted last month there was a tremendous amount of uncertainty whether some nominees and subjects from this year’s Oscars would even be able to attend the ceremony. When the travel ban was struck down by the Ninth Circuit last week, it opened the door for those special guests to attend.
One of those guests, Hala Kamil, a mother of four and the subject of the Oscar-nominated short Watani: My Homeland, is confirmed to attend the Oscars. Her husband, Abu Ali, was kidnapped by ISIS in September 2013 and has not been seen since and is sadly presumed dead. She and her family were resettled in Germany but are Syrian citizens. Kamil has obtained a visa to attend the awards ceremony.
She had this to say:
“When I heard that I might have the opportunity of attending the Oscars to represent Watani: My Homeland, I felt incredibly proud and happy but bittersweet. The first thing that came to my mind was my husband and soul mate. 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.
To think that over three years after I last saw my husband, I’ll be traveling to that same ceremony we watched together, brings tears to my eye. But to be reminded of what I have lost is also a reminder of what I have held on to; my four children.
It’s also a reminder of what keeps me strong, and what drives me to speak up for beloved homeland and its people.
Traveling to the United States is a very important step forward for me, to have the opportunity to reach so many people with my message of peace, unity, and understanding is so invaluable, and I’m so grateful to have this chance.
I want to tell the world about a small country called Syria, a country that has been burnt alive, its people torn up from the soil they once thrived on. 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. All these people want is peace and the right to live.”
The 89th Academy Awards are Sunday, February 26th, 2017 where Watani: My Homeland is competing in the Best Documentary Short Subject category.