Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oscar-Nominated Palestinian Director Victimized By Customs Officials

Oscar nominated director Emad Burnat was detained by U.S. Customs officials this week and was told he and his family would be refused entry, despite having valid passports and proper visas for entering the country.   Fellow documentarian Michael Moore took to Twitter in protest after the director texted him when officials took the filmmaker, his wife and 8-year-old son into a holding area to find out why they were entering the country. 

Burnat, who is up for an Academy Award this weekend for his co-directing efforts on 5 Broken Cameras, was eventually allowed into the U.S. after being questioned for an hour and a half. His full statement:

“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.”

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