An Oscar-nominated Palestinian filmmaker was detained Tuesday and threatened with deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents at Los Angeles International Airport, according to Oscar-winning director Michael Moore.
Moore tweeted early Wednesday morning that Emad Burnat, director of 5 Broken Cameras, a film critical of Israeli West Bank settlements, was put in a holding area with his 8-year-old son “and told they didn’t have the proper invitation to attend the Oscars.”
Moore added that Burnat was “threatened with being sent back to Palestine.”
“Apparently the Immigration & Customs officers couldn’t understand how a Palestinian could be an Oscar nominee,” he continued. “Emad texted me for help.”
Burnat’s film, the first ever by a Palestinian to be nominated for Best Documentary, details the former farmer’s struggle in occupied territory, with each of his five broken cameras telling an integral part of the tale.
“I called Academy officials who called lawyers,” Moore explained. “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 & his family & told him he could stay in LA for the week & go to the Oscars. Welcome to America.”
He added that Burnat told him he was used to being treated as if he has no rights. “When u live under occupation, with no rights, this is a daily occurrence,” Moore wrote.
It’s probably no surprise that Burnat contacted Moore as soon as possible. On his official Academy Awards nominee questionnaire, he listed Moore as a chief inspiration for his work. “He is a master of documentary films,” Burnat wrote. “He captures his audience & shifts their perceptions through film.”
The question that followed asked, “What advice do you have for others who might want to follow in your footsteps?”
“You must be willing to stand up for what you believe in, despite all your fears, the odds & obstacles,” he answered.
This video is a trailer for 5 Broken Cameras, published to YouTube on June 11, 2012.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.