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Oscar-nominated Palestinian director Emad Burnat, his wife, and his 8-year-old son were detained by United States customs in LAX upon their arrival and were threatened with deportation.
Customs detained the family in an isolated room and ordered Burnat not to use his cell phone, as reported by TMZ.
Burnat, whose documentary 5 Broken Cameras is up for multiple Academy Awards, was stopped by immigration as he arrived in the U.S. He told U.S. customs that he was an Academy Award director, but they did not believe them.
The farmer-turned-filmmaker tried to show the officers some e-mails he received from the Academy Awards containing his Oscar invitation and even his hotel reservation, but they refused to believe him.
When he used his cell phone to reach his friends for help, he was ordered not to use his cell phone. Fortunately, he was eventually able to reach Michael Moore.
Alerted of the situation, Moore told the Academy Awards officials to contact their lawyers. Moore then began tweeting about the situation.
The director and his family were only detained for half an hour but were never offered an apology when released.
Burnat made a statement, noted in Hit Fix, informing the public about Tuesday night's situation.
"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 [t]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."