×

‘The Cave’ Director Feras Fayyad Finally Arrives in U.S. After Visa Troubles

UPDATED: “The Cave” director Feras Fayyad has finally made it into the United States, weeks after he was denied entry into the country. According to National Geographic Documentary Films, which is behind the Oscar-nominated “The Cave,” “we can report that Feras arrived safely this evening in Los Angeles.”

Fayyad’s arrival comes after he missed a Television Critics Assn. press tour panel on Jan. 17 promoting “The Cave.” At the time, Nat Geo told reporters that Fayyad had been detained by immigration police in Copenhagen, and eventually released to producer Sigrid Dyekjar.

Fayyad had earlier been denied a visa into the United States, and was not able to attend the International Documentary Association’s Documentary Awards in Los Angeles to accept his prize for best writing for “The Cave.” Since then, his aunt’s house was bombed in Syria, and he had traveled back and forth between Turkey, to be close to his family, and Denmark, where the Syrian filmmaker lives in exile.

The news of Fayyad’s inability to enter the United States came two days after the New York-based National Academy of TV Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles-based Television Academy sent a letter to the State Department urging his safe travel to the U.S. In a response to the Academies’ letter, Ian Brownlee, the Bureau’s principal deputy assistant secretary, said it could report that “the appropriate U.S. Embassy has been in touch with Mr. Fayyad’s attorneys to obtain the remaining documents needed in order to complete the processing of his application.”

“The Cave” comes from Fayyad and his primary cinematographers Muhammed Khair Al Shami, Ammar Sulaiman and Mohammed Eyad, who followed Dr. Amani Ballor, a pediatrician and the manager of an underground hospital in war-torn Al Ghouta, as she tended to patients and tried to maintain morale as bombs dropped all around her and her team. Between 2012 and 2018, they shot roughly 1,000 hours of material.

Here’s the full statement from National Geographic Documentary Films about Fayyad’s arrival in the U.S.:

The outpouring of support from the documentary and entertainment community to help us in our efforts to have The Cave’s director Feras Fayyad return to the US has been overwhelming. After weeks of turmoil and struggle and obstacles no one should have to endure, we can report that Feras arrived safely this evening in Los Angeles. Feras is a visionary filmmaker and activist who has dedicated his life to sharing Syrian stories, often at great risk to himself and the tireless and dedicated teams that work with him.

His film, “The Cave,” implores us to bear witness to the ongoing atrocities of the Syrian crisis and to stand with those, like Dr. Amani, who refuse to be silenced. Through the power of film, as only he can, he has brought us into Dr. Amani’s world, and we are all a little bit better, more aware, and more compassionate, because of it. She is a true hero; a true humanitarian; the first woman to be a director of a hospital in Syria; and a true inspiration. Our hope and focus now is to try and arrange for Dr. Amani to also attend the Oscars and spend some time in the U.S. supporting her fund. We are grateful to the film community who feels as we do that now, more than ever, it’s crucial that we support and give a platform to storytellers and artists such as Feras who are attempting to enlighten, inform and inspire the world through their work.

On Tuesday, Fayyad posted his thanks on Twitter:

More TV

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Health Plan Cuts Premiums by 50% Due to Coronavirus Crisis

    The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan has cut 50% from the cost of premiums for the second quarter in response to the coronavirus crisis. SAG-AFTRA members were notified of the reduction on Wednesday via a message from SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White. They said the cuts would cover participants who had been [...]

  • Adam Schlesinger

    Tom Hanks, Rachel Bloom, Stephen Colbert, Stephen King Pay Tribute to Adam Schlesinger

    Whether it was the snarky but sincere pop of Fountains of Wayne and Ivy, the ‘60s retro of Tom Hanks’ “That Thing You Do!” or the Broadway fare of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” Adam Schlesinger’s music reached far beyond his public profile. The master songwriter passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 52 from complications related [...]

  • Aline Brosh Mckenna Adam Schlesinger

    'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend' Co-Creator Aline Brosh McKenna Pays Touching Tribute to Adam Schlesinger

    “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna paid a touching tribute to Adam Schlesinger on Twitter after the Emmy-winning songwriter and singer died Wednesday from coronavirus complications. Brosh McKenna took to the social media platform to fondly recall a moment from the writer’s room, “One day, when Adam, Rachel (Bloom) and Jack (Dolgen) were working, we [...]

  • Rick and Morty HBO Max

    Adult Swim Announces 'Rick and Morty' Season 4 Return Date

    Adult Swim has announced that the second half of Season 4 of “Rick and Morty” will premiere on May 3 at 11:30 p.m. The announcement was made today alongside a new trailer for the season’s remaining five episodes. Set to the upbeat chant of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town,” the footage offers [...]

  • Jason Kilar

    New WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar on His Vision for the Future of Media

    By tapping Jason Kilar — the co-founder of Hulu and an Amazon veteran — to be its new CEO, AT&T-owned WarnerMedia is sending a signal that its future will be streamed. In a conversation with Variety just hours after the announcement, Kilar himself says as much. Kilar has known AT&T COO and current WarnerMedia CEO [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content