The first Palestinian filmmaker nominated for an Academy Award, Emad Burnat on Tuesday narrowly avoided a mix up that could have barred him from attending the ceremony.
Burnat, the co-director of the film 5 Broken Cameras, was detained along with his family by immigration officials after arriving at LAX, his representative confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was released after questioning. Michael Moore, a governor of the Academy's documentary branch and a champion of Burnat's film, tweeted about the incident in detail late Tuesday.
"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," he wrote. "Although he produced the Oscar invite nominees receive, that wasn't good enough & he was threatened with being sent back to Palestine... Apparently the Immigration & Customs officers couldn't understand how a Palestinian could be an Oscar nominee. Emad texted me for help... 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."
5 Broken Cameras focuses on Burnat's small Palestinian village and the peaceful resistance it has waged against encroaching Israeli settlements. Shot on small digital cameras, the film was co-directed by Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi, and won the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award at Sundance in 2012, as well as the recent Cinema Eye Award, which Moore accepted on Burnt and Davidi's behalf.
"To live in a small town, small village, and just to be traveling around the world, to many countries and many festivals and to get many awards, it’s very exciting," Burnat recently told The Hollywood Reporter. "This was important for me, you know I didn’t expect that the film would be very successful and I didn’t expect the success. It’s not just for me, the success, the success is for my village and my people in Palestine."