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Iraqi Filmmaker Withdraws Visa Application for Miami Festival Over Trump’s Expected Immigration Restrictions

Hussein Hassan, the director of the Iraqi film “Reseba — The Dark Wind,” has withdrawn his visa application to the U.S. for clearance to attend the North American premiere of his film at the upcoming Miami Film Festival.

The producer of the film, Mehmet Aktas, said Hassan withdrew his application as an act of “peaceful protest” about President Donald Trump’s expected order that will restrict entrance to the U.S. for those from some Middle Eastern nations.

Miami Film Festival director Jaie Laplante said the festival will proceed with the screening as scheduled, but with a “deep sense of loss and disappointment.”

“One of Miami Film Festival’s core values is to bridge cultural understanding, to provoke thought and discussion, and ‘The Dark Wind’ is one of the most timely, moving, and important films in this year’s festival,” Laplante said. “It is essential that roadblocks not be put in place that will prevent artists from the free discussion of their work, and equally essential that the world’s artists are made to feel welcome in the United States.”

Hassan is from Iraq, one of the seven countries listed in a draft order leaked this week that’s expected to suspend refugee and visa programs in many Muslim countries in the Middle East. President Trump has denied he is about to authorize a “ban” on Muslim migration and stressed he’s seeking restrictions on entry from countries with a history of terrorism.

“It’s countries that have tremendous terror,” Trump told ABC News in his first television interview as president. “And it’s countries that people are going to come in and cause us tremendous problems.”

Aktas said, “Hussein Hassan shot his film ‘Reseba — The Dark Wind’ at the front line of the war between the Kurds and the so called Islamic State. Hussein Hassan risked everything to present the true face of the war. Hassan is not a fighter at the front line, he fights with his artistic soul against terrorism and crimes.”

“The U.S. is the closest and most important ally for Kurdistan. Now it seems to be impossible for a Kurdish artist to visit the U.S. to present his work,” he continued. “As an act of peaceful protest, Hussein Hassan decided to withdraw from his visa application. We as Kurdish filmmakers hope that Donald Trump will acknowledge the Kurdish people.”

The festival opens March 3 at Miami Dade College.

UPDATE, 3:45 p.m. — President Trump has signed an order that bars all persons from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen from entering the United States for 30 days and suspends the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. The total number of refugees admitted into the United States would also be capped during the 2017 fiscal year at 50,000.

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