Michael Moore Intervenes To Help Oscar-Nominated Palestinian Filmmaker Detained At LAX
Thanks to immigration officials at LAX, the Palestinian filmmaker Emad Burnat could have missed the Oscars ceremony where his film "5 Broken Cameras" is nominated for the best documentary. Burnat feared deportation, but he was able to stay in Los Angeles for the next week with some help from the Academy's legal team and filmmaker Michael Moore.
Burnat, his wife and son are in town for the Oscars this weekend, but they were detained for 1.5 hours at LAX upon their arrival yesterday, his representative confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. Burnat produced an invite from the Oscars but that didn't seem to sway officials.
"5 Broken Cameras" collaborated with Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi to create a documentary whose images were culled from 5 years of footage from the titular digital cameras. The New York Times describes how the film came to be this way:
Mr. Burnat, a Palestinian farmer in the tiny town of Bilin, was given his first camera in 2005, when his youngest son, Gibreel, was born. Almost simultaneously, the Israeli Army began building a barrier between Bilin and a nearby Jewish settlement. The residents of Bilin, outraged as their olive groves were bulldozed by the military and burned by settlers, organized weekly protests, attended by left-wing Israelis and sympathizers from other countries. In 2007 the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the barrier rerouted, and four years later, after village access to some of the land was restored, the demonstrations were called off. Mr. Burnat’s was not the only camera present at these protests, but the footage he shot, which is accompanied by after-the-fact voice-over narration and part of a video diary of his daily life, is especially poignant and intimate.
Moore has been a big supporter of the film, and he tweeted about incident last night:
Emad Burnat, Palestinian director of Oscar nominated "5 Broken Cameras" was held tonight by immigration at LAX as he landed to attend Oscars— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 20, 2013
Emad, his wife & 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.— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 20, 2013
Although he produced the Oscar invite nominees receive, that wasn't good enough & he was threatened with being sent back to Palestine.— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 20, 2013
Apparently the Immigration & Customs officers couldn't understand how a Palestinian could be an Oscar nominee. Emad texted me for help.— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 20, 2013
I called Academy officials who called lawyers. I told Emad to give the officers my phone # and to say my name a couple of times.— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 20, 2013
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.— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 20, 2013
"It's nothing I'm not already used to," he told me later. "When u live under occupation, with no rights, this is a daily occurrence."— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) February 20, 2013