The Archaeology Channel International Film Festival said today that guests from Muslim-majority countries invited to this year’s festival will not attend largely because of obstacles to obtaining visas.
Largely because of obstacles to obtaining visas, most foreign guests invited to Lane County’s oldest film festival, The Archaeology Channel International Film Festival, will not attend. The absence of these anticipated participants, belonging to three Muslim-majority countries, will have a significant and damaging impact on the event.
Of nine individuals in this group from Egypt, Iran and Pakistan, only one has been granted a visa. Two of them have had their visa applications outright rejected and two have been place in the “Administrative Processing” category, a kind of limbo status that can last weeks or months and is a de facto denial of a visa for someone coming to a scheduled event. Three other anticipated guests, after initial attempts to obtain visas and learning that others were being denied visas, decided against coming to the Festival and one was blocked by his employer from coming.
TAC Festival opens its 14th edition on May 3rd at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center in Eugene, Oregon. Other main components of the Festival are The Archaeology Channel Conference on Cultural Heritage Media, featuring presentations May 4-6 at the Hilton, and the film screenings for the competition at The Shedd May 4-7. Most of the expected guest who are not coming were scheduled to give formal presentations at the Conference.
“The U.S. State Department vetting process for visas already was arbitrary and unpredictable,” says Festival Director and ALI head Rick Pettigrew. “We saw problems of this kind last year. However, the difficulty faced by people trying to obtain visas from these countries appears to have grown significantly this year. One of our expected guests this year was here on our jury two years ago and spent months on Administrative Processing last year so he couldn’t come. Two others who won’t be with us were here last year. I can’t help but suspect that this outcome is the result of a silent but de facto travel ban as well as the negative publicity about the travel ban. It sends a message to people in these countries that an attempt to get a US visa is likely to be a waste of time and money. The absence of these guests weakens the value of our event for other participants and creates serious financial challenges for us in sustaining the event.”
The absences of foreign guests leave six open places in the presentation schedule for TAC Conference. Festival staff will do all possible to make use of the vacant times for other productive Festival purposes. Fortunately, the schedule includes other highly anticipated presentations, such as by Dr. Christopher Thornton of the National Geographic Society. Also noteworthy among the presenters at the Conference portion of the Festival are a group of panelists discussing their film about the lost Egyptian movie set of Cecil B. DeMille on the California coast, a filmmaker and archaeologist from Luxembourg who has been doing 3D documentation using drones in Iraqi Kurdistan, and a Kazakh filmmaker from Altay, China, describing the ancient skiing culture of the Altai Mountains in Central Asia. Several presentations focus on methods and opportunities for the development of network TV programming in the US. This is the most diverse and numerous set of presentations in the history of TAC Conference.
Agacheri Turks: The Woodmen of Anatolia
Approaches: Saint Michel de Cuxa
The Bridge Recovered
Chambord: The Castle, the King and the Architect
The Destruction of Memory
The Enigma of the Great Menhir
The Experts Travel Back in Time: The Neolithic Ages
A Footnote in Ballet History
A Gigantic Jigsaw Puzzle: The Epicurean Inscription of Diogenes of Oinoanda
The Grand Masters of the Chauvet Cave
Gyptis: A Greco-Massalian Boat Dating back to the 6th Century BC
Himera: The Temple of Victory
The Inevitable Evolution of Fort Frederick
The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille
My Name is Salt
Naachtun: The Forgotten Mayan City
Nowruz in Tajikistan
Prayers Long Silent
Sailing a Sinking Sea
Stone Age Cinema