LAX Didn't Believe Foreigner Was Oscar Nominee

Michael Moore says he intervened to help Emad Burnat clear customs

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 20, 2013 3:55 PM CST

(Newser) – Emad Burnat is nominated for Best Documentary for his film about the Palestinian protest of an Israeli security fence in the West Bank, 5 Broken Cameras—but he didn't have an easy time of it yesterday when he entered the US to attend Sunday's award ceremony. According to Michael Moore's Twitter account and a statement from Burnat picked up by the Hollywood Reporter, Burnat and his family were held up for more than an hour by immigration officials at LAX who threatened to send the family home because authorities were skeptical of his claim to be an Oscar nominee. The family was eventually released after Moore contacted the Academy, whose lawyers contacted immigration.

"Although this was an unpleasant experience, this is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every single day, throughout he West Bank," says the filmmaker's statement. "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." Click for a Burnat interview about the incident via the Huffington Post.

Documentary film director Palestinian Emad Burnat poses for a photo after an interview in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013.
Documentary film director Palestinian Emad Burnat poses for a photo after an interview in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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