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New George Clooney Film to Feature Syria’s Heroic White Helmet Volunteers

Wikimedia Commons/Michael Vlasaty

In 2014, several years after bombs began to rain down on the city of Aleppo in Syria nearly constantly, a video surfaced of a miraculous rescue. 

Khaled Omar Harrah, a volunteer with a group of first-responders called the White Helmets, is seen pulling a 10-day-old child from the rubble of a bombed-out apartment building. Covered in a layer of white dust, the crying baby survived for the entirety of a 16-hour rescue operation. 

Other videos of the White Helmets’ heroism have surfaced in recent years, as the group has responded to the pleas of Syrian civilians trapped in the crossfire between government and rebel forces. A young man, another White Helmet, cries as he cradles a baby girl on the way to the hospital after pulling her from the rubble. A boy is airlifted from atop a building in Aleppo. 

A White Helmet with a rescued child.Image: Netflix

Read more: Amid the Rubble of Syrian Airstrikes, a Young Man’s Footage Captures the Strength of the Human Spirit

George Clooney, actor, producer, and humanitarian, is now hoping to bring these true stories of heroism to the big screen, giving the White Helmets their first feature film

A Netflix documentary on the White Helmets, produced by Orlando Von Einseindel, already exists. Clooney hopes to use the documentary footage as source material for his fictional film, to be produced by Smokehouse Pictures. 

Clooney and his more impressive wife, Amal, are no strangers to the Middle Eastern crisis, nor to using their roles as celebrities for activism. 

This year, the couple met with Syrian refugees in Berlin, in a conversation brokered by the International Rescue Fund. Amal, a lawyer and activist, represented Nadia Murad — a Yazidi refugee who had been held as a sex slave by ISIS in Iraq — at the International Criminal Court. 

clooney-refugee-roundtable.jpgImage: Flickr/US Department of Commerce

Read more: Canada Will Accept Yazidi Refugees After Plea From Nadia Murad

George Clooney’s activism goes back as far as 2006, when he spent 10 days in Darfur, Sudan, with his dad, and produced a TV special on the conflict there. He has also advocated for Ukrainian protesters, Haiti earthquake victims, and LGBTQ rights. In 2009, he was named a UN Messenger of Peace. 

In 2012, Clooney teamed up with producer Grant Heslov for the film, “Argo,” which won an Oscar for best picture. 

His next challenge, portraying the White Helmets, might involve parsing through what’s fact and what’s fiction about the rescue group, which has been criticized for receiving funding from the US Agency for International Development. 

The White Helmets have saved over 60,000 people since 2011, but may see a reduced role as fighting in Aleppo winds down. 

After years of seeing the daily death and destruction in Aleppo, it’s time for the heroes of this conflict to be celebrated.