February 20, 2013 at 10:06 am #92090
Two stories about nominees from places that cause US Customs people to make visitors uncomfortable some time:
Director Michael Moore is outraged … claiming his friend — a Palestinian director whose film is nominated for an Oscar — was detained at LAX last night because officials didn’t believe the man was REALLY in town for the Academy Awards.
Moore tweeted a play-by-play of the incident … claiming his friend, Emad Burnat — whose film “5 Broken Cameras” is nominated for Best Documentary Feature,” was held for an hour-and-a-half while officials grilled him about his visit.
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.”
He continued, “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 L.A. 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.'”
Moore concluded … “He was certain they were going to deport him. But not if I had anything to do about it.”
We’ve reached out to LAX and immigration officials — so far, no comment.
A nicer story (so far) about the teen actress who plays the lead in War Witch:
16 year old Rachel
Mwanza, star of the Oscar® nominated Best Foreign Language Film WAR WITCH, has
just been granted a visa
to travel from the
Congo to attend the various film awards shows in both
the US and Canada.
who gives a riveting performance, was living on the streets of Kinshasa, when
filmmakers discovered her and cast her as the lead in the film, which was shot
entirely on location in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The filmmakers
continue to provide her with a caregiver and oversee her education.
beyond thrilled and relieved that the governments in the US, Canada, and the DRC
will allow Rachel entry so she can celebrate the film’s many accomplishments
with us, said TK from the film. “Rachel’s story is truly a Cinderella tale –
abandoned by her family and living on the streets as a child, her life has been
transformed by the making of the film. To have her journey end on the red
carpet is beyond anything she could have dreamed of.”February 20, 2013 at 3:51 pm #92092
I’ve been sympathetic towards Palestinians and non-Israelis since I was 8 yrs old. This is a refreshing thing to read, and it doesnt surprise me that it comes from Michael Moore, regardless of what others may think of him. I applaud him for ‘interfering’.
Michael Moore on ‘5 Broken Cameras’ Director’s LAX Ordeal: It Doesn’t Compare to Palestinians’ ‘Daily Humiliation’
Published: February 20, 2013 @ 3:36 pm
Michael Moore said that Oscar-nominated Palestinian filmmaker Emad Burnat’s ordeal with immigration officials on Tuesday demonstrates that the United States is overly strict when it comes to greeting foreign visitors, particularly people of color.
“If he’d been a white guy he wouldn’t have to go through that in our ‘post-racial’ America,” Moore, the Oscar-winning director of “Bowling for Columbine,” told TheWrap via email.
Burnat, whose film “5 Broken Cameras” is up for a Best Documentary Academy Award, was held for questioning by immigration officials at Los Angeles International Airport and was asked to produce evidence that he was, indeed, invited to attend Sunday’s ceremony. The director and his family were grilled for an more than an hour, he said, while authorities repeatedly suggested he might be sent back to his native country.
Moore, who is a governor in the Academy’s documentary branch and an outspoken supporter of Burnat’s film, intervened after receiving a text message from the director.
On his blog, Moore wrote that he contacted officials at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which produces the Oscars, who in turn enlisted the organization’s attorney. Moore called the State Department in Washington and told Burnat to have the officials call him so he could verify that he was an Oscar nominee and shouldn’t be deported.
“5 Broken Cameras” centers on a Palestinian farmer who lives on the border of an Israeli settlement, and both Burnat and Moore likened the questioning by officials to the daily experience of living under an often oppressive regime.
“Although this was an unpleasant experience, this is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every single day, throughout he West Bank,” Burnat said in a statement to TheWrap. “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.”
Moore echoed those statements in an interview with TheWrap and also spoke about “5 Broken Cameras” chances of victory at the Oscars where it will go up against such acclaimed documentaries as “How to Survive a Plague” and “Searching for Sugar Man.”
What does Burnat’s detention say about the way we our country treats foreign visitors?
We have reacted with unnecessary paranoia and as a result foreign visitors first encounter with an American — the immigration officer — is not that pleasant.
Are there parallels between his treatment and that of Palestinians in the West Bank?
He has spoken to this point in his statement today. What happened at LAX last night is actually pretty minor compared to the daily humiliation he and others suffer in the Palestinian territories.
Do you think Burnat is owed an apology by Immigration officials?