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.”

Muhammad 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.

“It’s nothing 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 occurrence.”

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.



After 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 Film Festival.

The Oscar winners will be announced in a glitzy Hollywood ceremony on February 24.

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