The International Documentary Association released a statement Friday in support of missing Syrian filmmaker Owra Nyrabia, who was detained in Damascus August 23. The clamor among the international filmmaking community for Nyrabia’s release has been growing in recent days, and many American guilds and organizations have joined the campaign.
Nyrabia founded the DOX BOX film festival and has been a vocal supporter of independent film in his home country, which has been consumed by conflict. Toronto film festival organizers have noted that they are“extremely concerned by his arrest – film-makers must be allowed to express themselves without fear of reprisal,” while French film organizations released a statement that says, “Orwa Nyrabia belongs to a young generation of Syrian cineastes and cinephiles, who love cinema from around the world and freedom. His arrest worries and outrages us.”
Martin Scorsese, who was also vocal when Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi was put under house arrest last year, said, “The international film community must remain vigilant, and shine a light on every injustice perpetrated against our fellow artists. We need to maintain pressure to ensure the immediate release of Orwa Nyrabia.”
Read the full statement from the IDA:
Syrian filmmaker and festival director Orwa Nyrabia has been missing since Thursday, August 23 after attempting travel from the Damascus International Airport. Nyrabia works as a film producer and is one of the founders of the DOX BOX International Documentary Film Festival held in Syria. Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Al Jazeera, IDFA, Screen International, RealScreen and many other film organizations have covered the news of Orwa’s disappearance over the last few days.
We, the undersigned, represent tens of thousands of leading filmmakers working around the world. As such, we believe that the artistry and power of film is vital to societies and cultures globally. We strongly defend the right of filmmakers everywhere to practice their art and bring humanity closer together through the telling of our shared stories.
Orwa Nyrabia is not only a celebrated filmmaker, but also an artist who has devoted his life to bringing people and cultures together through film. Although Orwa is now being held in darkness somewhere, the filmmaking world is paying attention will continue to shine a light on him until he is safely reunited with his family. We call for his immediate return.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Docs in Progress
The Documentary Center, George Washington University
European Documentary Network
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
International Documentary Association
International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam
Producers Guild of America
San Francisco Film Society
The Scottish Documentary Institute
Stranger Than Fiction
Tribeca Film Festival
Tribeca Film Institute
True/False Film Fest
Women Make Movies
Writers Guild of America, West