In 2015, after having her husband captured by ISIS and losing her country to an ongoing war, Hala Kamil made the difficult to decision to flee her homeland of Syria in search of a better future for her four young children.
The short documentary, “Watani: My Homeland” chronicles her and her family’s harrowing journey - from the remains of their bomb-battered home in Aleppo to the still streets of Goslar, Germany - where they finally find refuge and attempt to rebuild.
This year the film was named one of five nominees for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. The nominees were announced in the early hours of the morning on Tuesday, January 24. By chance, Hala happened to be in the states with the film’s director, Marcel Mettelsiefen, when the announcements were made. They cheered. They hugged. They ate a celebratory breakfast. And that Thursday, she flew home to Germany, with hopeful plans to return to the United States to attend the Academy Awards. It was less than 24 hours later that President Trump signed his Executive Order - banning her or any other Syrian refugee from entering the country.
This past weekend, however, thanks to a temporary stay on the ban granted by the federal courts, Hala was able to make it into the country.
Still, she would need a dress for the Oscars. In a race against the clock, the team behind the film put a call out on social media - soliciting help from designers, stylists, and friends alike. The outpouring of response from the entire fashion community was overwhelming, encouraging, and wholly unexpected. And while Hala flew over the Atlantic, unaware of the happenings below, the world's most renowned stylists and designers were responding to the call.
That Sunday, dressed in a custom two-piece gown designed by Brandon Maxwell, designer for the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama, and styled by Jamie Mizrahi, stylist to Katy Perry, Hala Kamil arrived at the Academy Awards. In a dress only for her, she walked the red carpet. Eyes were on her, and she was beautiful.
"Hala" is a brief but poetic look at Hala, her journey here, and her Oscars weekend.