Ethiopian Films News

Filmmaker denied visa to attend award ceremony

Daniel Worku, the director of Ethiopian documentary film “Illusion and Reality”, will not be traveling to the US to receive his award this year.

Daniel’s film was screened on February 25, 2010 at the International Los Angeles Film Festival and a month later he received an e-mail informing him that he has won in the best international director’s category and he was invited to attend the award ceremony to be held on July 22, 2010 in New York.
“I went to the US embassy on June 14 to apply for a visa. I was greeted with the question if I had a brother named Eyob,” Daniel said. The director has a brother by that name that had been denied a visa. But he has other brothers and sisters that are residing in America legally. “I answered I was going to screen my film and receive an award. Later I was only asked if I have brothers there and my application was turned down in just five minutes.”

According to him, though winning the award had given him a real thrill that he never anticipated, the rejection of a visa was really shattering. “Ironically my film talks about the challenges of illegal immigration and how people should not immigrate illegally to other countries. It was paradoxical to think that I would be staying there illegally,” he said with bewilderment about the whole ordeal.

Illusion and Reality was sponsored by the German Cultural Institute and it shows the hard life that illegal immigrants face in Europe.
Daniel told The Reporter that his elder sister went to the US after she worked in the US embassy for several years and his brothers immigrated to the US after winning a Diversity Visa lottery. He says his denial of a visa was unfair. “I was asked to bring all the documentations that I have and it is really sad, nobody even bothered to look into them. The US embassy has nice online appointment setting. But the form is missing a few specifications; it does not specify if you are going to receive a film award.”

“I have told the organizers of the award about what happened. They have e-mailed an invitation explaining the legitimacy of the event and why I need to be there. But nothing has happened so far.”
Daniel has previously traveled to Sweden, Germany and China and a few African countries. He says that he had no intention of staying in the US for long. “If I can win the award from here why would I need to live there? It has been my goal to educate the youth and promote a positive self-esteem.”

The filmmaker has also made another educational drama on the youth in college called “Self- Portrait”.
“Receiving the award in person would have promoted my future works and it would have been a great achievement for Ethiopia,” Daniel said.