Syrian cineaste ‘denied visit to Swiss festival’

Syrian cineaste 'denied visit to Swiss festival'
Syrian filmmaker Mohammad Malas. Photo: AFP
Prominent Syrian filmmaker Mohammad Malas has been prevented by authorities in his country from leaving his homeland to attend a human rights film festival in Geneva, a news media report says.

Malas was questioned by Syrian intelligence officials on Tuesday before being freed as he was attempting to cross the Lebanese border in order to fly to Switzerland, the ATS news agency reported.

However, he was told he could not leave Syria, the agency said.

One of Malas’s films is entered in competition at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights, set to run in Geneva from March 7th to the 16th.

A resident of Damas, he was to present his documentary “Ladder to Damascus” at the festival.

Malas, a recognized film director honoured internationally, supported the peaceful protest against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.

The director of the Geneva film festival Leo Kaneman said he deplored the move by Syrians to block Malas’s trip to Switzerland.

His film will be screened on Saturday (March 8th) as planned, Kaneman said.

The festival had invited Malas to attend to offer him a “breath of fresh air” at a time when he is suffering a “major isolation in his country,” he told ATS.

Many intellectuals, artists and militant pacifists have reportedly been arrested by the Syrian regime, which is fending off a civil war.

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