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Oscar-nominated Palestinian director and family detained at LAX

Immigration officials detained Oscar-nominated documentary film director, Palestinian Emad Burnat and his family for about an hour of questioning at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on their way into town for Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony. According to

Emad Burnat says that when he arrived at Los Angeles International Airport from Turkey with his wife and 8-year-old son late Tuesday, agents told them they didn’t have the proper proof that he was a nominee and would send them back if they couldn’t verify the reason for their visit. After about an hour of questioning, the agents allowed Burnat and his family to enter the country.

5 Broken Cameras,” the first Palestinian documentary ever nominated for an Oscar, already has won awards at the Sundance Film Festival and the Cinema Eye Honors. It features footage that the olive farmer-turned-filmmaker shot using five cameras in his occupied West Bank village of Bil’in, from everyday activities with his family to protests and shootings. The son with whom he is traveling, Gibreel, was the inspiration for buying the first of these cameras in 2005; like so many parents, Burnat wanted to document the boy’s first steps and smiles.

Burnat had just been in the United States two weeks earlier doing interviews about the film alongside his co-director, Israeli activist Guy Davidi, including some with The Associated Press.

Oscar-winning documentarian, Michael Moore helped clear up the matter of Burnat’s detention by making some phone calls on behalf of the Palestinian family.

Moore, a friend of Burnat’s and a champion of his work, wrote on his website,, that Burnat texted him from an airport holding area seeking help. Moore said he made a few calls to leaders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who contacted some attorneys to clear up the matter. The Academy did not respond to a request for comment on Burnat’s detainment.

-Bill at

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