New York, N.Y. — Jan. 24, 2018 — Feras Fayyad’s Last Men in Aleppo has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary Feature category. The film, which premiered on PBS’ POV in July 2017 as part of the series’ 30th season, is a powerful firsthand account of the daily trauma that grips the city of Aleppo four years into Syria’s Civil War. Fayyad has made Oscars history as the first Syrian filmmaker to be nominated for the Documentary Feature Award. POV documentaries have been nominated for 27 Academy Awards, and have won three.
The film, available on Netflix and in the POV Lending Library, unveils the Syrian War’s terrifying aftermath, and the volunteer rescue workers and first responders known as the White Helmets who stayed behind to pull their neighbors from the rubble.
Last Men in Aleppo had its U.S. Broadcast premiere on POV in 2017 as part of a collection of five documentaries covering the Syrian war and global refugee crisis. This showcase aired nationwide during the first three weeks of the series’ 30th anniversary season. In addition to the broadcast, POV worked with refugee resettlement organizations, interfaith groups and other partners across the country to present advance screenings of Last Men in Aleppo, including 20 events commemorating World Refugee Day. Ranging from small gatherings at local libraries to large events in partnership with the New York Times, the Independent Documentary Association and the Skirball Cultural Center, these screenings featured panel discussions with journalists and experts on international refugee policy.
“From the moment we saw this film pitched in 2016, we knew it was a special project,” said POV executive producer, Justine Nagan. “The access, intimacy and immediacy made it an essential part of our 30th season, and an unforgettable cinematic experience for anyone who has seen it. POV is proud to have made it widely accessible to American audiences on PBS, in communities and online. We have loved working with Feras and his team and are elated that the film, and the courage it captures, is being recognized by the Academy.”
To assist screening partners in leading discussions and developing educational activities around the film, POV produced several companion materials for Last Men in Aleppo. Available on POV’s website at no cost, these resources include a standards-aligned lesson plan for students in grades 9-12 and above; a suggested reading list; a discussion guide; and a variety of film clips for educational use. The guide includes background information on the Arab Spring uprisings, the Syrian war and refugee crisis, and the White Helmets, as well as prompts for dialogue, a list of resources and steps for taking action on the issues raised in the film.
Last Men in Aleppo is in excellent company in the Academy Awards® Best Documentary Feature category. Former POV series producer Yance Ford received a Best Documentary Feature nomination for his documentary film Strong Island, which was produced in association with POV. POV filmmaker Agnes Varda (The Beaches of Agnes, POV 2010) was also nominated for a Best Documentary Feature for her film Faces Places. The rest of the category is filled out with PBS Frontline documentary Abacus: Small Enough to Jail from director Steve James, distributed by PBSd and executive produced by POV’s Justine Nagan, and Icarus, directed by Bryan Fogel.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary on PBS this past season, POV is American television’s longest-running independent documentary showcase. The 90th Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2017 will be presented on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live on the ABC Television Network at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT. The Oscars also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.
About the Filmmakers:
Feras Fayyad, Director
Feras Fayyad is an award-winning filmmaker who has worked as a film editor and cinematographer on several documentary and narrative films. He has participated in international film festivals and received recognition for his work with contemporary Syrian issues and political transformation in the Arab world.
Steen Johannessen, Co-Director, Editor
Steen Johannessen is an experienced editor of a number of internationally acclaimed documentaries, including Motley’s Law, Miners Shot Down and Warriors from the North. Last Men in Aleppo marks his debut as a co-director.
Søren Steen Jespersen, Producer
Søren Steen Jespersen has produced several award-winning documentaries and directed Warriors from the North, winner of Best Mid-Length Documentary at Hot Docs 2015.
Kareem Abeed, Producer
Kareem Abeed is a Syrian producer and one of the founders of the Aleppo Media Center. Abeed has worked as a producer for video features on Syria with several international outlets, including CNN, BBC and Channel 4.
Director: Feras Fayyad
Co-Director, Editor: Steen Johannessen
Producers: Søren Steen Jespersen, Kareem Abeed
Cinematographers: Thaer Mohammed, Mojahed Abo Al Joud
Executive Producers for POV: Justine Nagan and Chris White