By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 21, 2013 at 1:04PM
UPDATE: Emad Burnat, co-director of "5 Broken Cameras," has issued a statement about his and his family's detention at LAX en route to the Oscars:
"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.
"After 40 minutes of questions and answers, Gibreel asked me why we were still waiting in that small room. I simply told him the truth: 'Maybe we'll have to go back.' I could see his heart sink.
"Although this was an unpleasant experience, this is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every single day, throughout he West Bank. There are more than 500 Israeli checkpoints, roadblocks, and other barriers to movement across our land, and not a single one of us has been spared the experience that my family and I experienced yesterday. Ours was a very minor example of what my people face every day."
EARLIER: Late Tuesday night on his way to celebrate his Oscar nomination at this coming Sunday's Academy Awards, West Bank filmmaker Emad Burnat was detained at LAX airport, where he contacted doc branch member Michael Moore for help. Moore tweeted the news and scrambled to get support for the director of the first Palestinian doc ever nominated for an Oscar, who was eventually released and allowed to enter the country. Moore tweeted:
"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...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. 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..."It's nothing I'm not already used to," he told me later. "When u live under occupation, with no rights, this is a daily occurrence."
"5 Broken Cameras" was introduced by Moore this fall at DOC NYC, where it was part of the documentary film festival's Short List. If you never got to see Burnat and Guy Davidi’s controversial West Bank doc, now's your chance. "5 Broken Cameras" will be presented this March as part of the SundanceNOW Doc Club's "Unforgettable" month curated by doc programmer Thom Powers. "The Palestinian farmer turned filmmaker Emad Burnat put his life on the line and lost five cameras in the making of the film," says Powers. "And his collaborator Guy Davidi, an Israeli, demonstrates remarkable courage and compassion with his involvement." (TOH's review and interview is here.)
"5 Broken Cameras," winner of the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and the Cinema Eye awards, will be available on SundanceNOW's subscriber video-on-demand (SVOD) Doc Club beginning March 1. The film will also be available transactionally, along with fellow Oscar Doc nominee "How to Survive a Plague."
Produced by Burnat, Davidi, Christine Camdessus and Serge Gordey, "5 Broken Cameras" is a gripping first-hand video account shot by Burnat of five years of life during the non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village encroached on by Israeli settlements. Burnat bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, Gibreel, and five broken cameras later, Davidi came in as co-director.
Other films to be presented during Doc Club’s “Unforgettable” month will include: Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s BROTHER’S KEEPER; Tina Mascara and Guido Santi’s CHRIS & DON: A LOVE STORY; Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman’s DERRIDA; Mickey Lemle’s RAM DASS FIERCE GRACE; Shelly Dunn Fremont and Vincent Fremont’s PIE IN THE SKY: THE BRIGID BERLIN STORY; and Astra Taylor’s ZIZEK!