Emad Burnat, the protagonist and co-director of an Oscar-nominated documentary
about the protests surrounding the West Bank security barrier in his native
village of Bilin, near Ramallah, is familiar with security checks. But on
Wednesday, he was detained in a new location: Los Angeles International Airport,
on his way to attend the 85th Oscar Award Ceremony, according to celebrated
documentary filmmaker Michael Moore.
“Emad Burnat, Palestinian director
of Oscar nominated 5 Broken Cameras, was held Wednesday by immigration at LAX as
he landed to attend the Oscars,” Moore tweeted to his 1.4 million followers late
on Tuesday night, or Wednesday morning Israel-time.
“Emad, his wife and
8-year-old son were placed in a holding area and told they didn’t have the proper
invitation on them to attend the Oscars.”
Moore said Burnat texted him
for help after security detained his family.
“Although he produced the
Oscar invite nominees receive, that wasn’t good enough & he was threatened
with being sent back to Palestine... Apparently the Immigration & Customs
officers couldn’t understand how a Palestinian could be an Oscar nominee,” Moore
wrote. “I called Academy officials who called lawyers. I told Emad to give the
officers my phone number and to say my name a couple of times.”
Khatib, a friend of Burnat who makes a small appearance in the documentary,
confirmed that Burnat was stopped.
“He was detained for a short time and
investigated, but after he called the lawyer of the Oscars they allowed him to
enter,” Khatib said on Wednesday evening.
“After 1.5 hrs, they decided to
release him & his family & told him he could stay in LA for the week
& go to the Oscars. Welcome to America,” Moore tweeted.
I’m not already used to,” Moore said Burnat told him after the incident. “When
[you] live under occupation, with no rights, this is a daily
The Los Angeles International Airport spokesman would not
confirm that Burnat was detained and LAX security could not be reached for
comment.5 Broken Cameras
tells the six-year saga of Burnat’s family
against the backdrop of weekly Palestinian demonstrations against the
construction of the security barrier through Bil’in. Burnat originally bought
the first camera to film home videos of his newborn son Gibreel.
collecting more than 700 hours of footage, Burnat worked with Israeli director
Guy Davidi to turn the footage into a documentary.
Despite accolades from
film critics around the world, the movie has frustrated people in Bil’in who are
angry when it is classified as an “Israeli” documentary.5 Broken Cameras
received the Best World Cinema Documentary directing prize at the 2012 Sundance
The Oscar winners will be announced in a glitzy Hollywood
ceremony on February 24.