Update -- 4:00 p.m.m, Feb. 20, 2013: Burnat has issued his own version of events regarding the LAX incident. Here's part of the statement he released through 5 Broken Cameras distributor Kino Lorber:
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 ...
Although this was an unpleasant experience, this is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every single day, throughout the West Bank.
Original post: Director Emad Burnat has gone through a lot to get to Hollywood. He lost five cameras during the filming of his Oscar-nominated documentary about Palestinians protesting an Israeli security fence. Even now, with an Academy Award nomination under his belt, he's still reportedly being held up by airport immigrations officers while trying to get to Los Angeles for the awards ceremony.
Yesterday, Burnat traveled from the West Bank — where he resides in a small, embattled town called Bilin — to Los Angeles in order to attend Sunday's Oscars ceremony. His film 5 Broken Cameras, in which the residents of Bilin clash with the Israeli Army over the construction of a security fence separating them from a Jewish settlement, is one of this year's contenders for best documentary feature. The title refers to the five consumer-grade digital cameras destroyed while this farmer-turned-filmmaker found himself caught in the commotion of some of the film's more heated moments. Widely praised by critics, The New York Times' A.O. Scott called Burnat's eyewitness film "a modest, rigorous and moving work of art."
But immigration officials don't abide by movie critics. According to fellow political documentarian Michael Moore and reports from various Israeli media outlets, Burnat, his wife, and his 8-year-old son were detained by U.S. immigrations officials for about an hour and a half upon arriving at LAX. Through his Twitter handle, Moore claims that officials told Burnat that he and his family didn't have proper documentation for entering the United States. Moore says Burnat contacted him after they threatened to send him "back to Palestine." He goes on to say that Academy lawyers got involved and Burnat was eventually allowed to leave the airport. Moore's Twitter updates (embedded below) from early Wednesday morning seem to be the only source on this story, so keep that in mind before getting too outraged. However, if it is true that a filmmaker who documents containment in Palestine was yet again contained when trying to enter the U.S., what a poignant way to underscore the themes in 5 Broken Cameras.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.