The White Helmets, which tells the story ofvolunteer rescue workers saving civilians in Syria and Turkey, won Best Documentary Short during Sunday's Academy Awards.
Khaled Khatib, one of the Syrian rescue workers who also served as a cinematographer on the award-winning short, was unable to attend the ceremony after being denied entry to the U.S. Raed Saleh, the leader of the White Helmets, had also planned to attend the Oscars, but was unable to for unknown reasons.
However, during director Orlando von Einsiedel and producer Joanna Natasegara's acceptance speech, they read a statement from Saleh. "We're so grateful that this film has highlighted our work to the world. Our organization is guided by a verse from the Quran: "To save one life, is to save all of humanity." We have saved more than 82,000 Syrian lives," Saleh's statement read. "I invite anyone here who hears me to work on the side of life to stop the bloodshed in Syria and around the world."
"It's very easy for these guys to feel they're forgotten," von Einsiedel added. "This war's been going on for six years. If everyone could just stand up and remind them that we still care that this war ends as quickly as possible," asked the director, prompting the crowd to erupt in applause of support.
The other films nominated in this category were Extremis, about end-of-life decisions in a hospital ICU; 4.1 Miles, about a coast guard caption who must save thousands of refugees from drowning; Joe's Violin, about how a Holocaust survivor donating his violin changes a young girls life in the Bronx; and Watani: My Homeland, about a Syrian widow trying to find a better life for her children.