TV academies ask Pompeo to allow foreign documentarians entry for Emmy Awards

TV academies ask Pompeo to allow foreign documentarians entry for Emmy Awards

The TV academies are banding together and asking Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoNPR reporter after Pompeo clash: Journalists don't interview government officials to score 'political points' NPR sends letter to State Dept. demanding answers for reporter's removal from trip Trump allies throw jabs at Bolton over book's claims MORE to allow foreign documentarians to enter the country for the Emmy Awards ceremony.

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) and the TV Academy sent a joint letter to Pompeo Tuesday, calling on him to take action after journalists and documentarians have been denied entry to the U.S. 

“The awards stand as the premier honor in the television industry globally and convene the most creative talents in the world for collaborative dialogue here in the United States,” the letter published by Variety reads. “This important mission is suppressed when creators are denied the opportunity of full recognition of their work and interaction with their respectful peers.”

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The academies cite the specific denial of Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad, who was supposed to attend the International Documentary Association’s Documentary Awards in Los Angeles and accept an award for writing. His documentary “The Cave” focuses on a pediatrician and hospital manager in Syria between 2012 and 2018 and was nominated for an Oscar earlier this week. 

The letter said Fayyad’s visa denial “echoes the experience reported by other documentarians” looking to attend Emmy Award ceremonies. 

“It appears that these visas may have been denied solely based on applicant nationality,” the letter says. “But it is precisely their nationalities that make programs such as those produced by Mr. Fayyad so compelling.”

It was signed by NATAS Chairman Terry O'Reilly, CEO and President Adam Sharp, Television Academy Chairman and CEO Frank Scherma and President and COO Maury McIntyre.

A State Department spokesperson said visa records are confidential, so individual cases cannot be discussed. The spokesperson added that decisions are made on a case-by-case basis by reviewing whether the person is eligible "based on U.S. law."

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"The Department of State recognizes the important contributions international filmmakers and documentarians make to the culture of the United States," the spokesperson said. "We strive to facilitate the legitimate travel of artists to the United States, regardless of nationality."

A spokesperson for Fayyad told Variety last week that he is helping his family flee their home in Syria and is “hopeful” the U.S. will allow him to come to the U.S. to tour for his film.

“For Feras and his family, the horrors of war are still very much a reality of their daily lives,” the spokesperson told the magazine.