Palestinian director Emad Burnat was held briefly at Los Angeles’ LAX airport as he arrived for the Oscars, where his latest movie is nominated, filmmaker Michael Moore said.
Burnat, whose “Five Broken Cameras” is shortlisted for best documentary at the 85th Academy Awards on Sunday, was placed in a holding area with his wife and eight-year-old son for 1.5 hours, the activist filmmaker said.
“Although he produced the Oscar invite nominees receive, that wasn’t good enough & he was threatened with being sent back to Palestine,” Moore said on his Twitter feed of the incident Tuesday night.
“Apparently the Immigration & Customs officers couldn’t understand how a Palestinian could be an Oscar nominee. Emad texted me for help,” he added.
Moore, who won the best documentary Oscar in 2003 for “Bowling for Columbine” about gun control, said he called officials at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who called lawyers.
“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 quoted Burnat as saying: “It’s nothing I’m not already used to ..When u live under occupation, with no rights, this is a daily occurrence.”
A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Jaime Ruiz, said the agency would shortly issue a statement on the incident, but otherwise did not comment when contacted by AFP.
A representative for Burnat, who co-directed “Five Broken Cameras” with Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Moore, a well-known activist for a variety of causes, added that the Palestinian filmmaker “was certain they were going to deport him. But not if I had anything to do about it.”