Oscar 2012: Palestinian Oscar-Nominee Detained at LAX

Feb 20, 2013–Emad Burnat, the Palestinian co-director of Oscar-nominated documentary “5 Broken Cameras,” detained by immigration officials at Los Angeles Intl. Airport on Tuesday evening, has issued a statement about his experience and talked to the Huffington Post about helmer Michael Moore’s part in his release.

“Immigration officials asked for proof that I was nominated for an Academy Award for the documentary ‘5 Broken Cameras’ and they told me that if I couldn’t prove the reason for my visit, my wife Soraya, my son Gibreel and I would be sent back to Turkey on the same day.

“Although this was an unpleasant experience, this is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every single day, throughout he West Bank. There are more than 500 Israeli checkpoints, roadblocks, and other barriers to movement across our land, and not a single one of us has been spared the experience that my family and I experienced yesterday. Ours was a very minor example of what my people face every day,” Burnat said in a statement.

Burnat was traveling with his family to take part in Sunday’s Academy Awards, when they were stopped.

He showed the officers his official Academy Awards invitation but was nevertheless held for 90 minutes of questioning.

“They were asking me for documents and invitations. I had the (Oscar) invitation in my iPhone…they told me they don’t care,” he told the Huffington Post on Wednesday.

Burnat texted Moore, who was waiting for him to arrive at his annual dinner for all the Oscar doc nominees, saying “URGENT, they’re holding me at the LA airport.”

Moore, who is on the board of governors at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, called AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson who reached out to the immigration office. He also publicized Burnat’s plight in a series of tweets.

“I think they just have a hard time wrapping their head around the fact that a Palestinian could be an Oscar nominee,” Moore told the Huffington Post. “I apologized to him as an American…it’s just shameful.”

Burnat is the first Palestinian filmmaker nominated for an Oscar. “5 Broken Cameras,” which he co-directed with Israeli Guy Davidi, explores Palestinian non-violent resistance to Israel’s separation barrier.

According to Burnat, this is his sixth visit to the U.S. and the first time he’s been stopped by immigration officials.

As for whether or not anyone from the immigration office has apologized to Burnat, Moore said “No. No one.”