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Iraq Filmmaker Protests Trump Muslim Ban, Withdraws Visa Application to Attend Miami Film Festival

Filmmaker Hussein Hassan was recently told there was a problem with his U.S. visa application and that he needed to re-apply.

“The Dark Wind” director Hussein Hassan and producer Mehmet Aktas

Hussein Hassan, the director of the Iraqi film “Reseba” aka “The Dark Wind,” has withdrawn his U.S. visa application for clearance to attend the North American premiere of his film at the Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival. The decision was made as an act of peaceful protest against President Donald Trump’s pending executive order titled “Protecting the Nation From Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” that would restrict visits and immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

“The Dark Wind” is a drama about radical Islamist militants who attack a village in Iraq where a young couple prepares for marriage. Miami Film Festival director Jaie Laplante said the festival will proceed with the screening of the film as scheduled, but with a “deep sense of loss and disappointment,” according to a statement.

“This is just a deeply upsetting turn of events,” Laplante told IndieWire in an interview. “We got an email from his producer on Tuesday saying there were all these unusual delays. He has applied for visas in the past at the U.S. consulate and received an answer in two days.” Hassan was recently told that he needed to re-submit his application, but was unsure whether he would be be approved in time to travel to the Miami festival, which runs from March 3 to March 12, 2017.

Mehmet Aktas, the producer of the film, issued the following statement:

“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 US are the closest and most important allies for Kurdistan. Now it seems to be impossible for a Kurdish artist to visit the US to present his work. 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.”

“When it comes to blocking artists from having cultural exchange, that’s an area that affects us directly,” Laplante told IndieWire. “We feel that we need to speak up and say that this is wrong and that we hope that this executive order does not get signed.”


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