Emad Burnat, the Palestinian who co-directed the Academy Award-nominated documentary "5 Broken Cameras," was reportedly detained at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday night as he attempted to enter America to attend the Oscars, this according to filmmaker Michael Moore.
Burnat and his family were eventually released, according to Moore, but not before spending 90 minutes being held by immigration officials. Moore explained what happened to Burnat in a series of tweets to his 1.4 million followers:
"5 Broken Cameras" focuses on Burnat, who chronicles several years of his life in the West Bank. From the official Oscars page:
As Israeli settlers begin building homes and erecting a barrier wall in the West Bank village of Bil'in, a Palestinian farm worker documents the town's resistance to the new settlement. Over the course of several years, the townspeople clash with the Israeli Defense Force, and tensions mount as the wall remains and the building continues.
Israeli officials have said that "5 Broken Cameras" is one of two Israeli documentaries up for an Oscar on Sunday ("The Gatekeepers" being the other), but the origin country of Burnat's film has been a source of controversy throughout awards season. ("5 Broken Cameras" is a co-production of Israel, Palestine and France.)
"I'm Israeli, Emad is Palestinian, personally I don't think films should have citizenships," co-director Guy Davidi told The Electronic Intifada back in January.
"This is a Palestinian film from the heart, from the mind and from the soul," Burnat said to HuffPost Live earlier this month about the film. "This is a Palestinian documentary."
For more on "5 Broken Cameras," head over to HitFix.
UPDATE, 2/20: Burnat released a statement about the incident on Wednesday afternoon, which you can read below:
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.
Note: This post has been updated to include more information about the film in question.