The White Helmets (film)

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The White Helmets
Film poster
Directed byOrlando von Einsiedel
Produced byJoanna Natasegara
CinematographyKhaled Khateeb[1]
Grain Media
Violet Films
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
16 September 2016
Running time
40 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The White Helmets is a 2016 British short documentary film.[2] The film follows the daily operations of a group of volunteer rescue workers of the Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets.[3] The film was directed by Orlando von Einsiedel and produced by Joanna Natasegara.[4] It won the Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the 89th Academy Awards.[5]


The White Helmets follows three Syria Civil Defence volunteers as they work in Aleppo and across Syria.[6] The film also follows the three men, who are part of the same unit, as they train in Turkey.[7]


  • Khalid Farah
  • Mohammed Farah
  • Abu Omar
  • Raed Saleh


Von Einsiedel said he first became aware of the Syrian Defense Force when he and producer Joanna Natasegara were shown grainy YouTube footage of an infant being dug out from beneath rubble in the aftermath of a bombing.[8] After seeing the footage, Von Einsiedel reached out to the Mayday Rescue Foundation, which provides support to the White Helmets, to ask to join volunteers as they trained in Turkey. Shortly thereafter, Von Einsiedel commissioned Khaleed Khateeb, a volunteer for the Syrian Civil Defense who had been informally documenting rescue missions since 2013, to be the film's videographer.[9]

The film is available in 21 languages and 190 countries.[10]

"Crashing Down", an unreleased Plastic Beach track by Gorillaz featuring the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music, is played during the credits.[11]


White Helmets won Best Documentary (Short Subject) at the Academy Awards in 2017, but the film's cinematographer, Khaled Khateeb, was unable to attend the awards ceremony due to being denied entry into the United States.[1][12]

In December 2016 it was announced that George Clooney was in the early stages of developing a feature-length film based on the documentary.[13][14] In 2017, the film received the Cinema for Peace Most Valuable Documentary of the Year Award.

The White Helmets has an approval rating of 100% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 6 reviews, and an average rating of 8.50/10.[15]


  1. ^ a b Deborah Vankin (27 February 2017). "Director of 'The White Helmets' talks about shining a light on Syrian heroes". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  2. ^ Galuppo, Mia (16 December 2016). "Aleppo Documentary Filmmakers: "We Worry About the People We Spent Time With"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  3. ^ John Anderson (15 September 2016). "'The White Helmets' Review: Pulling Hope From the Rubble". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  4. ^ Katz, Andrew (7 September 2016). "Exclusive: Watch the Trailer for 'The White Helmets'". Time. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Oscar Nominations 2017: See the Full List". Vanity Fair. 24 January 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2017.
  6. ^ Yasmeen Serhan (30 September 2016). "Who Are the White Helmets?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  7. ^ Jack Moore (12 September 2016). "THE WHITE HELMETS: NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY FOLLOWS SYRIA'S VOLUNTEERS FROM". Newsweek. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  8. ^ Patricia Garcia (15 February 2017). "Syria's White Helmets Have Saved Thousands of Lives, But They Might Be Blocked From Coming to the Oscars". Vogue. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  9. ^ Maanvi Singh (26 September 2016). "Young Syrian With A Dream Risks His Life To Film New Netflix Doc". Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  10. ^ Emanuelle Saliba (15 September 2016). "Netflix's 'White Helmets' Highlights a Syrian Rescue Group on the Front Line". Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  11. ^ Gorillaz
  12. ^ Devindra Hardawar (26 February 2017). "Netflix wins an Oscar for documentary short 'The White Helmets'". Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  13. ^ Dave McNary (19 December 2016). "George Clooney to Develop Movie on 'White Helmets' Rescuers in Syria". Variety. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  14. ^ "George Clooney to make movie about Syria's White Helmets". The Guardian. 20 December 2016. Archived from the original on 20 December 2022.
  15. ^ "The White Helmets". Rotten Tomatoes.

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