Michael Moore, the American film director, posted a message Wednesday on his Twitter page saying that the Palestinian co-director of the film "5 Broken Cameras," Emad Burnat, had been detained early Wednesday morning by U.S. immigration officials at Los Angeles International Airport after arriving at the airport overnight.
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Burnat flew to Los Angeles to attend Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony, at which his film, which he directed alongside Israeli Guy Davidi, is in the running for best documentary. The film documents the friction between Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank village of Bil'in over the building of Israel's security fence adjacent to the village.
According to Moore's Twitter post, after Burnat arrived on a flight to Los Angeles with his wife and 8-year-old son, immigration authorities ushered them into a waiting area and claimed that Burnat lacked the necessary documentation to prove that he was in Los Angeles to attend the Oscar ceremony. "Although he produced the Oscar invite nominees receive, that wasn't good enough & he was threatened with being sent back to Palestine," Moore tweeted.
In other Twitter messages, Moore, whose films include "Bowling for Columbine" and "Fahrenheit 9/11," commented: "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," Moore tweeted. "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," Moore wrote.
"5 Broken Cameras" is shaped from footage shot by Burnat, a resident of Bil'in, over several years beginning in 2005. It documents the childhood of his son, Gibreel, who is now 8, against the backdrop of the protests the village residents waged against the security fence on land that they owned. During the course of the filming, several of Burnat's cameras were broken, hence providing the film with its name. Burnat witnessed Israeli troops injuring his friends and relatives during clashes between the two sides.
"5 Broken Cameras" has been shown at a number of film festivals and won the award for best Israeli documentary at this year's Jerusalem Film Festival. It also took the prize for best documentary directing in the World Cinema category at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.