New ordeal of Feras Fayyad, Director of Best Documentary Feature Oscar contender “The Cave”; Receives outpouring support for him to get visa and attend the Oscars on February 9, 2020
By Oliver Carnay
Statement from Sigrid Dyekjær, Producer THE CAVE
Given to The Television Critics Association today, Friday, 1/17/2020
“We were hoping that Feras Fayyad could be here with us today.
As has been widely reported, in December Feras was denied an extended U.S. visa by the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen and has missed several industry events, including the IDA Awards and Cinema Eye Awards.
He has had quite the ordeal these past weeks.
While waiting on the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen to grant him another appointment, Feras received news that his aunt’s house was bombed and his parents’ and childhood home was in the line of fire in Syria.
As the oldest of 10, he feels a great responsibility for his siblings and his parents. So, instead of continuing to wait on the embassy, Feras went to Turkey to be as close to his family as possible and help in any way he could.
The past few weeks for Feras have been filled with a lot of fear. A lot of anger. A lot of anxiety.
He remained in Turkey until two days ago, when we had positive indications the embassy was willing to revisit his case.
Feeling his family is out of immediate danger for now, Feras decided to return to Denmark.
However, things escalated two nights ago when I got a phone call at 12.30 a.m. Feras had been detained on his way into Copenhagen by immigration police.
I rushed to the airport. Feras told me the police used unnecessary force in detaining him. The past month has been a lot for a man who has been imprisoned and tortured in Syria, and whose family is under threat and has siblings spread all over Europe.
Feras was distraught, exhausted and felt discriminated against. The police eventually released him into my care.
After this ordeal and given there was no way to get here by today, Feras is instead spending the weekend with his 5-year-old daughter – who hasn’t seen him in over six weeks.
Our next step is to go back to the embassy early next week and try again for the necessary visa so he can come to the U.S.
National Geographic has been communicating with the U.S. State Department, and we have had an overwhelming show of support from the documentary community and entertainment industry at large, including:
The Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences
The Television Academy & The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
The Director’s Guild of America
The International Documentary Association
The Minister for Culture of Denmark
The Danish Film Institute
The association of Danish Film Directors
Feras is a filmmaker, but first and foremost he’s a Syrian. THE CAVE is a very personal film. It is dedicated to his seven sisters. To his daughter. To the unnamed women he witnessed being jailed and tortured in Syrian prisons because they’re women.
His voice is important and it deserves to be heard, now more than ever. After all, we are talking about a brilliant filmmaker who is now a two-time Academy Award nominee — and my dear friend.”
Feras — and all of us — thank you all for your continued support.