The directed of Best Documentary contender 5 Broken Cameras, Emad Burnat, was detained by US Immigration officials last night as he attempted to enter the country to attend the Oscar awards ceremony. Burnat, a Palestinian farmer whose film about abuses by Israeli security services was a surprise hit around the world, faced demands for proof of his Oscar nominee status.
"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," said Burnat. "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."
US Immigration services have previously been accused of racial profiling and it is possible that Burnat's country of origin raised concerns. Last year the Somali-born British athlete Mo Farah was held for several hours on suspicion that he may be a terrorist.
Burnat, who was fortunately able to deal with the situation and is now safely in an LA hotel, stressed that his experience was minor compared to what Palestinians encounter on a regular basis. "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."