The Toronto International Film Festival is among global industry interests expressing concern about Orwa Nyrabia, a Syrian filmmaker and festival organizer who disappeared last week en route to Egypt.
“Nyrabia belongs to the emerging generation of Syrian filmmakers passionate about world cinema and passionate about freedom. We are extremely concerned by his arrest — filmmakers must be allowed to express themselves through their films, without fear of reprisal,” the release said.
Nyrabia’s wife, Diana El-Jeiroudi, issued a statement last week saying she had had no contact with him and had heard from the airline that he did not board the plane. Film industry professionals in Europe and New York have also called on Syrian authorities to account for his whereabouts.
Earlier this year, they were awarded a prize by the European Documentary Network for their exceptional contribution to the development of documentary cinema. The prize came with resources that helped the festival remain independent.
Nyrabia often served as a jury member in film festivals in Europe and the Middle East. This year, he also organized a Dox Box Global Day to bring Syrian films to international audiences, showcasing insider views of continuing violence and government repression in Syria.
Nyrabia worked on films such as 2002’s Sacrifices with Oussama Mohammad and was collaborating with documentary director Omar Amiralay, an activist involved in the Damascus Spring, when Amiralay died in 2011.