US authorities deny eight-year-old Indian actor visa to attend premieres in LA and New York

The Weinstein Co, the producers of 'Lion', said the decision "must be the effect of immigration paranoia" gripping the US

US authorities deny eight-year-old Indian actor visa to attend premieres in LA and New York

Nicole Kidman and Sunny Pawar in 'Lion' [The Weinstein Co]

US officials have refused to grant a visa to an eight-year-old Indian actor, citing only “immigration concerns” as their reason for denying Sunny Pawar permission to attend the premiere of Lion, an outlying Oscar hopeful starring Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara and Dev Patel.

The film, based on a true story, recounts the life of man Saroo Brierley, adopted from India by an Australian couple after he is found alone at the age of five. Having gone missing from his home in Calcutta, as an adult, Brierley returns to India to retrace his steps in an attempt to find his biological family.

Sunny Pawar was supposed to fly to Los Angeles with his father Dilip in other to attend the premiere of Lion at the American Film Institute, before travelling to New York for the film’s world premiere at the Museum of Modern Art. But the eight-year-old, who’s been mentioned as a potential ‘Best Supporting Actor’ candidate, has been denied entry to the US, according to the Weinstein Co, the studio behind the film.

“We are devastated that Sunny, an eight-year-old boy who is part of this amazing film and who is garnering such strong reactions from his performance, cannot be here to be a part of this experience,” David Glasser, Weinstein Co-president and COO, told Variety. “We are doing everything we can to fight this; we believe it must be the effect of immigration paranoia. He, of course, poses absolutely no threat to anyone. We want him to be a part of the celebration of this film and his performance. We fully intend to go through the proper resources and appeal with the State Department for assistance.”

The Weinstein Co now says it has employed the services of attorney David Boies, a member of the legal team that argued in front of the US Supreme Court about passing marriage equality, to take on Pawar’s case.

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