UPDATE, Nov. 15: On November 11, U.S. officials allowed Sunny Pawar, the 8-year-old star of “Lion,” to enter the country to attend the New York premiere of the film on November 16.
According to Variety, Pawar and his father, Dilip Pawar, were flying to Los Angles and arrived on Saturday. The Weinsten Co, which is distributing “Lion,” appealed to officials at the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection which allowed passage for both of them. The young actor was able to attend the 8th Annual Governors Awards on Saturday, November 12. He walked the red carpet with his co-stars Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and Priyanka Bose.
PREVIOUS, Nov. 9: Sunny Pawar, the 8-year-old Indian boy who stars in the upcoming film “Lion,” has been struggling to obtain a US visa to attend the Los Angeles and New York screenings of the movie.
According to Variety, the actor was supposed to fly to LA this week with his father, Dilip, to attend the AFI Fest and would then head to NY for the premiere at the Museum of Modern Art. The Weinstein Company, which is distributing the feature, is attempting to obtain a last-minute visa.
“We are devastated that Sunny, an 8-year-old boy who is part of this amazing film and who is garnering such strong reactions from his performance, cannot be here to be a part of this experience,” David Glasser, Weinstein Co. president and COO, told Variety. “We are doing everything we can to fight this; we believe it must be the effect of immigration paranoia. He, of course, poses absolutely no threat to anyone. We want him to be a part of the celebration of this film and his performance. We fully intend to go through the proper resources and appeal with the State Department for assistance.”
Pawar portrays Saroo Brierley, a young boy who gets lost on the streets of Calcutta and ends up at an orphanage before getting adopted by a couple. The adult version, who goes back in search of his family is played by Dev Patel. Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman co-star.
Per the trade, the US Consulate in Mumbai has not told the studio why they won’t give Pawar a visa and it’s not clear when he applied for one. The boy wasn’t in attendance at the film’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this year.
“‘Lion’ is a true story of love, inclusiveness, and human commitment unbounded by race, religion, or ethnicity,” David Boies, founding partner of Boies Schiller & Flexner, who’s working with The Weinstein Co. on the matter said in a statement. “The government’s preventing the 8-year-old star of that movie from visiting this country shows how much we need to be reminded that those are our nation’s core values.”