‘5 Broken Cameras’ director detained in LAX on way to Oscars (Updated)

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Emad Burnat in Bil’in. (Photo: Edmund Sanders / LA Times)


5 Broken Cameras director Emad Burnat has issued a statement on being detained at LAX:

“Last night, on my way from Turkey to Los Angeles, CA, my family and I were held at US immigration for about an hour and questioned about the purpose of my visit to the United States. 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.

After 40 minutes of questions and answers, Gibreel asked me why we were still waiting in that small room. I simply told him the truth: ‘Maybe we’ll have to go back.’ I could see his heart sink.

Although this was an unpleasant experience, this is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every single day, throughout the 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.”

Emad Burnat


Michael Moore has written an account of the story on his website — “How My Friend and Current Oscar Nominee Emad Burnat Was Held and Threatened with Deportation Last Night at LAX.”

Original Post:

Last night filmmaker Michael Moore broke news over Twitter when he reported that 5 Broken Cameras director Emad Burnat was being detained at Los Angeles International Airport along with his family when they arrived to attend the Academy Awards this Sunday. Burnat was threatened with deportation, but eventually let into the United States for one week to attend the awards ceremony. Burnat reportedly told Moore: “It’s nothing I’m not already used to, when you live under occupation, with no rights, this is a daily occurrence.”

Here is how Moore told the story to his 1.4 million Twitter followers:

Emad Burnat detained at LAX on his way to the Oscars

Filmmaker Michael Moore tweets about ‘5 Broken Cameras’ director Emad Burnat being detained at Los Angeles International Airport when he arrived to attend the Oscar awards on Sunday, March 24.

Storified by Mondoweiss· Wed, Feb 20 2013 06:57:09

Emad Burnat, Palestinian director of Oscar nominated "5 Broken Cameras" was held tonight by immigration at LAX as he landed to attend OscarsMichael Moore
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
Although he produced the Oscar invite nominees receive, that wasn’t good enough & he was threatened with being sent back to Palestine.Michael Moore
Apparently the Immigration & Customs officers couldn’t understand how a Palestinian could be an Oscar nominee. Emad texted me for help.Michael Moore
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
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
"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
Emad Burnat, Palestinian farmer turned filmmaker, director of "5 Broken Cameras", the 1st Palestinian doc ever nominated for the Oscar.Michael Moore
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

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Good f-ing god. If only Obama knew.

It makes your teeth grate to read this, doesn’t it? Thank god he had Moore’s number.

Shame on the US INS. Against all odds, Emad was able to make this film, get it distributed, was nominated for an Academy Award, was permitted to travel outside of the West Bank, then the US detains him. Humduallah!

thank goodness he contacted Micheal Moore. Going to see the film tonight on the Univ of Colorado’s campus. Took your story over to Huff Po, Going to Tehran, Informed Comment, Foreign Policy, Raw Story, Emptywheel’s. Not up over at any of these places. 37 years ago Vanessa Redgrave spoke out… Read more »

As infuriating as it is, I can’t say I’m surprised. Good on Michael Moore.