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Less than a week after taking to Twitter to rage over an immigration snafu at LAX involving an Oscar nominee from Palestine, Michael Moore has returned to defend his dramatic account of the customs battle. This time, his ire is concentrated on a Buzzfeed report that threw his story into question.
On Feb. 20, Moore used a long series of tweets to explain the temporary detention of 5 Broken Cameras co-director Emad Burnat, whom Moore said was taken aside by TSA for questioning upon his flight’s arrival in Los Angeles.
Immigration officials asked Burnat for his ticket to the Oscars, Moore said, and when he was only able to produce an invitation, the filmmaker and his family were held for an hour and a half before Moore — who had campaigned on behalf of the film — could arrive at the airport to clear up the situation. Burnat later released a statement that backed Moore’s reportage of the event.
The report posted by Buzzfeed cited an anonymous LAX official who said that, after initial questioning, Burnat was able to find his ticket and was released shortly thereafter. The official said that the ordeal took “no more than 25 minutes” and charged that Moore was using the situation as a publicity stunt.
Moore called Buzzfeed’s report “BS” in a long rant, which can be seen in its totality below.
In an email to The Hollywood Reporter, Julia Pacetti, a rep for the filmmakers, backed Moore and called into question the Buzzfeed report, which later was amended to say that the outlet was seeking clarification from its LAX source on its definition of an Oscar “ticket.”
“Michael Moore is correct, there were no Oscar ‘tickets’ in the possession of anyone on the 5 Broken Cameras film team, including the filmmakers themselves, on Tuesday, the day Emad arrived,” Pacetti told THR. “In fact, no one had tickets to the Oscar ceremony at that time. Our publicity team picked up the actual tickets several days later. The Buzzfeed article states specifically, ‘Burnat was taken to a secondary inspection area where he found the ticket,’ so it does cast some doubt as to the reliability of the source of this information, in terms of what document that individual was actually talking about.”
Pacetti sent to THR a copy of the text message she and Moore received from Burnat from LAX, which read, “Hello… I am in the air port la they need more information why I come here… Can you help they will send us back If you late.”
Pacetti further blasted Buzzfeed and LAX for questioning what was “a harrowing experience” at the airport.
“It’s pretty insensitive to attempt to minimize anguish of this experience for Emad and his family,” she wrote. “Being detained, questioned and warned of possible deportation in front of his eight-year-old child was quite simply a harrowing experience for Emad, and for his wife Soraya. And of course the worst part of it is that their son Gibreel had to bear witness to it, and at the very start of a trip this little boy was so looking forward to.”
Ultimately, 5 Broken Cameras fell in the best documentary category to Searching for Sugar Man.
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