A Palestinian filmmaker on his way to the Academy Awards said on Wednesday [20 Feb 2013] he was held at Los Angeles International Airport and threatened with deportation before being allowed into the United States.
Emad Burnat, whose â€œ5 Broken Camerasâ€ is competing for an Oscar in the Best Documentary Feature category, said U.S. immigration officials took him, his wife and 8-year-old son aside when they arrived in Los Angeles from Turkey on Tuesday evening.
â€œImmigration officials asked for proof that I was nominated for an Academy Award â€¦ and they told me that if I couldnâ€™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,â€ Burnat said in a statement.
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, said in a series of Twitter messages that he stepped in to help resolve the situation.
â€œAlthough he (Burnat) produced the Oscar invite nominees receive, that wasnâ€™t good enough & he was threatened with being sent back to Palestine. â€¦ Apparently the Immigration & Customs officers couldnâ€™t understand how a Palestinian could be an Oscar nominee. Emad texted me for help â€¦ 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,â€ Moore tweeted on Tuesday evening.
Burnat said he and his family were detained for about an hour.
U.S. officials declined to comment on the incident, citing privacy laws.
â€œTravelers may be referred for further inspection for a variety of reasons to include identity verification, intent of travel, and confirmation of admissibility,â€ U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement. â€œThe United States has been, and continues to be, a welcoming nation.â€
Burnat, a farmer, is the amateur filmmaker behind â€œ5 Broken Cameras,â€ which documents about five years of protests against land seizures by Israeli forces and Jewish settlers in his village of Bilâ€™in in the occupied West Bank. It was co-directed by Israeli activist and filmmaker Guy Davidi.
It is the first Palestinian film to be nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars, according to representatives for the film.
â€œ5 Broken Camerasâ€ is one of five films nominated for an Oscar in the documentary category. One of its competitors is Israeli film â€œThe Gatekeepers,â€ which looks at the decades-old Middle East conflict through the eyes of six top former Israeli intelligence bosses.
The Oscars, the highest awards in the movie industry, will be presented on Sunday in Hollywood.
-by Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters
Courtesy â€“ TRANSCEND Media Service