Emad Burnat, the Palestinian co-director of “5 Broken Cameras,” was held up by US immigration authorities at LAX as he was attempting to enter the country ahead of Sunday’s Oscar ceremony, where his film is a nominee in the Best Documentary category, filmmaker Michael Moore announced via Twitter on Wednesday.
“Emad, his wife and 8-yr. old son were placed in a holding area and told they didn’t have the proper invitation on them to attend the Oscars,” Moore tweeted. “Although he produced the Oscar invite nominees receive, that wasn’t good enough and he was threatened with being sent back to Palestine,” he further tweeted.
Moore, who has 1.4 million Twitter followers, said Burnat contacted him via text message for help and that he ”called Academy officials who called lawyers. I told Emad to give the officers my phone # and to say my name a couple of times. After 1.5 hrs, they decided to release him and his family and told him he could stay in LA for the week and go to the Oscars. Welcome to America.”
The film, largely a personal record of Burnat’s West Bank village of Bil’in’s confrontations with Israeli soldiers, is critical of Israel and was financed in part by Israeli government funds, as was Israel’s second Best Documentary nominee, “The Gatekeepers.”
“5 Broken Cameras” was co-directed by Guy Davidi, an Israeli documentary filmmaker, and was labeled as an Israeli film during the Oscar nomination process, an association Burnat denies, saying that “we never gave it in as an Israeli or Palestinian film. But they know who gave it in, they know that it’s a Palestinian story and my personal story.”
Moore, known for his activist documentary film-making, which is often critical of big businesses and the US government, said that Burnat compared his LAX experience to life in the West Bank, saying, ”It’s nothing I’m not already used to… When you live under occupation, with no rights, this is a daily occurrence.”
Moore said that Burnat was sure he would be deported, but “not if I had anything to do about it.”
Moore’s account could not be independently verified.
This all just happened tonight, a few hours ago. He was certain they were going to deport him. But not if I had anything to do about it.
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 20, 2013
Jessica Steinberg contributed to this report.