Netflix 'thrilled' with Oscar win for Syria documentary

Syrian cinematographer of 'The White Helmets' film Khaled al-Khatib poses on February 27, 2017, in Istanbul. — AFP pic
Syrian cinematographer of 'The White Helmets' film Khaled al-Khatib poses on February 27, 2017, in Istanbul. — AFP pic

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BARCELONA, Feb 28 — Netflix is “thrilled” that the documentary The White Helmets which it distributes about rescue workers in war-torn Syria picked up an Oscar, the head of the US video streaming service said yesterday.

“One of the great things about entertainment is just being able to connect people to stories,” Reed Hastings said at the Mobile World Congress, the phone industry’s largest annual trade fair, in Barcelona in northeastern Spain.

“We are so thrilled that the Oscars, the Academy, honoured the film White Helmets and I definitely encourage you all to see it,” he added.

The 40-minute film triumphed at Hollywood’s biggest awards show on Sunday in the documentary short-subject category.

It was the first Academy Award win for Netflix, which distributed the film.

The documentary follows three rescue workers with the White Helmets — also known as the Syrian Civil Defence — who train in Turkey to provide emergency medical assistance to civilians caught in Syria’s civil war.

Accepting the Academy Award, director Orlando von Einsiedel urged the audience to get out of their seats and call for an end to Syria’s six-year civil war, which led to a standing ovation.

Netflix started streaming TV in the United States nearly a decade ago and has now launched in almost every country.

It ended 2016 with nearly 94 million subscribers, adding five million outside the United States in the last three months of the year.

Nearly half — 47 per cent — of Netflix users are now outside the United States, a proportion expected to increase as it adds more customers. — AFP

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