Eying 'Historic' Oscars Win, Palestinian Gets Cold Shoulder From Israeli Officials

No Receptions This Year for Film That Critiques Jewish State

The Envelope, Please: Director Emad Burnat, right, says it would be a historic day for Palestinians if ‘5 Broken Cameras,’ the film he made with Guy Davidi, wins an Oscar for best documentary.
academy awards
The Envelope, Please: Director Emad Burnat, right, says it would be a historic day for Palestinians if ‘5 Broken Cameras,’ the film he made with Guy Davidi, wins an Oscar for best documentary.

By Nathan Guttman

Published February 21, 2013.
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By the time Emad Burnat arrived at the reception for Oscar nominated documentary filmmakers, he’d been more than 24 hours on the road. His journey started off at him home village of Bilin in the West Bank, took him through roadblocks on the way to Jericho, hours of waiting at the border crossing to Jordan and from there a long flight to Los Angeles.

Burnat, who with Guy Davidi created ‘5 Broken Cameras,’ a documentary about life in a village next to the Israeli separation wall, is used to questioning and delays when travelling. But he did not expect another ordeal when entering the United States.

The filmmaker, on his way to attend the Oscar ceremony, was taken aside and questioned by immigration officers, who would not allow him to enter the United States without proving he was indeed an Oscar nominee. It took text messages to Michael Moore, who called top officials at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and friends at the State Department, to allow Burnat in.

“In other countries they have government representatives wait for the filmmakers at the airport with flowers,” Moore told reporters Wednesday night, “what are we afraid of?”

Burnat, however, did not allow the incident to dampen his enthusiasm.

“It was important for me to get here,” he said, “because this is the first Palestinian film that is nominated for an Oscar.” And if ‘5 Broken Cameras’ wins, Burnat said that would be “a historic day for the Palestinian people. We don’t have a state, but it will be a historic day.”

The question of whether Burnat and Davidi’s film is Israeli or Palestinian remains open, and its producers seem tired of discussing the issue.

Davidi, a Jewish Israeli who joined forces with Burnat’s attempt to document life under occupation, said he was taken aback by the criticism against the film in Israel.


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