Oscar-nominated filmmaker Emad Burnat nearly deported

Emad Burnat (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

The first Palestinian filmmaker ever to be nominated for an Academy Award, Emad Burnat, was almost prevented from attending the ceremony. The director of “5 Broken Cameras” was arriving at the Los Angeles International Airport on February 19th with his wife and children, when he held for several hours of questioning and almost deported. Burnat was only released after fellow documentarian, and past Oscar winner, Michael Moore intervened.

Moore, on Twitter, claimed that Burnat had been detained because the immigration officials refused to believe that a Palestinian could be nominated for an Oscar, and accused the filmmaker's official invitation, which he presented when asked, was counterfeit. Only after Moore called Academy officials, who brought lawyers in to deal with the situation, was Burnat finally released.

Burnat's film, “5 Broken Cameras,” made in collaboration with Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi, is about that very occupation, chronicling the peaceful resistance Burnat's village and its people have staged against a planned fence by the Israel government that would confiscate fully half of their farming land. The story was a cause celebre in Israeli media, and fueled in large part by footage that first time filmmaker Burnat shot with a series of cameras, each of which broke during the making of the movie. One was even smashed by a bullet.

In a statement on the incident, Burnat said, "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."