No, this wasn't a scene from Argo. But one Oscar nominee found himself held up at LAX.
A friend of Michael Moore nominated for an Oscar after codirecting 5 Broken Cameras—the first Palestinian film ever to snag a Best Documentary nomination—was stopped for questioning at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday night.
West Bank farmer-turned-filmmaker Emad Burnat and his family were held by immigration officials as they arrived in Los Angeles to attend Sunday's Academy Awards—this according to the Farhenheit 9/11 director and an Academy branch governor in a series of tweets early this morning.
"Emad, his wife & 8-yr old son were placed in a holding area and told they didn't have the proper invitation on them to attend the Oscars," Moore tweeted.
Burnat texted Moore for help and told him officials were threatening to deport him and his family back to the Palestinian territories if he didn't produce the requisite documentation.
"Although he produced the Oscar invite nominees receive, that wasn't good enough & he was threatened with being sent back to Palestine," wrote Moore.
Moore subsequently got on the horn to the Academy who put their lawyers on it and an hour-and-a-half later, Emad informed the Oscar winner that they had been released and told they could stay in L.A. for the week and attend the ceremony.
"Welcome to America," Moore added.
The Bowling for Columbine filmmaker later quoted Burnat as telling him, "It's nothing I'm not already used to. When u live under occupation, with no rights, this is a daily occurrence."
However, a source tells E! News that the Palestinian filmmaker was not detained at LAX immigration, though he was interviewed.
According to the source, Burnat went through the normal interview process that everyone who is entering the US goes through. He was asked his reason for visiting the U.S. and he answered that he would be attending the Oscars. Officials asked if he had an invitation, but Burnat was unable to produce it on the spot. Since he did not have the invitation handy, Burnat was then referred to the secondary area in order to keep all passengers and travelers moving. As soon as he produced the invitation, he was released.
According to our source, the whole process from the time he arrived at customs, processed and released was 25 minutes.
When asked for comment, Public Affairs Specialist for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Jaime Ruiz provided a statement.
"Due to privacy laws, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is prohibited from discussing specific cases," the statement read. "CBP strives to treat all travelers with respect and in a professional manner, while maintaining the focus of our mission to protect all citizens and visitors in the United States. CBP officers are charged with enforcing not only immigration and customs laws, but they enforce over 400 laws for 40 other agencies and have stopped thousands of violators of U.S. law. Travelers may be referred for further inspection for a variety of reasons to include identity verification, intent of travel, and confirmation of admissibility."
The statement continued.
"The United States has been and continues to be a welcoming nation. U.S. Customs and Border Protection not only protects U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents in the country but also wants to ensure the safety of our international travelers who come to visit, study and conduct legitimate business in our country. "
5 Broken Cameras, codirected by Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi, is a first-hand account of life and non-violent resistance in a West Bank village surrounded by encroaching Israeli settlements over a period of five years. Check out the trailer here.