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A funny thing happened on the way to the Oscars.
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Darren Decker / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Host Michael Moore at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' "Oscar Celebrates: Docs" event.
“The filmmakers here represent a watershed year that will inspire others for years to come.”

West Bank filmmaker Emad Burnat, co-director of the Academy Award-nominated documentary "5 Broken Cameras," was held at Los Angeles International Airport by immigration officials. When they refused to allow Burnat into the country, he quickly sent a test message to filmmaker Michael Moore who activated the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences attorneys and the situation was resolved. Burnat didn’t miss a beat taking his seat among the other directors and producers at the surprisingly riveting Oscar Celebrates: Docs roundtable.

At the event, Moore—who is one of the three Governors of the documentary category and the event moderator—quipped, “Apparently the Immigration and Customs officers couldn't understand how a Palestinian could be an Oscar nominee.”

The non-fiction films go right to the heart of the matter, eschewing the easy route of focusing on a single person who was wronged, delivering powerful messages in the process. Of the five emotionally moving films competing for the Oscar in the documentary feature category, four offer gutsy analyses of resolute subjects—the Israeli/Palestine conflict, military sexual assault, the beginnings of AIDS activism. . The fifth is a lovable portrait a forgotten Detroit musician embraced by South Africa.

What was expected to be a ho-hum Oscars documentary preview, turned into a meeting of the heroes. Indeed, it was not any typical movie night. More moving than any collection of documentaries in previous years, the nominated feature-length documentaries are driven from the core of social pain and issues that face our world today. Meeting those visionaries who know that perseverance and the message of humanity is stronger that any mechanical or technical celebration was the reward for all in attendance who absorbed each sentence deliver. The directors who represent their stories did not do it because it is just a great idea, they did it because they felt the pain; they listen to the suffering and did not want to turn a cold back to their environment. They said to us all, what can I do?

Each knew in their hearts that they could enact change with their storytelling. Each became a champion for freedom and justice…heroes in their own right. It is true testament to mankind that living in misery can also serve as a lesson in wisdom if you stand with your chin held high while speaking the humble truth that pain can deliver. Each proved that resistance is not measured by violence, but by the knowledge we gain when you thrive in spite of the odds against you.

More than any other collection of filmmakers, the true artists who had the courage to tell these gripping stories signified a reality that must not be kept in silence or inside the cultural closet. They are outspoken against the mass destruction of dignity by governments who stand without soul. It seems to be the destiny of these films to change public policy. In time they provide the insight that much of the world have failed to see and give a type of peace to the most vulnerable.

Today we salute the filmmakers in the documentary categories and second the statement of Michael Moore who boldly proclaimed that “if you threw a dart at the list of nominees, wherever it landed on would be the right choice. I wish there could be five winners, because each film is worthy of winning.”

Hear, hear!

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Darren Decker / ©A.M.P.A.S.

"5 Broken Cameras"

"5 Broken Cameras" looks at the Palestine- Israeil conflict from a different perspective showing daily life and demonstrations in Emad Burnat’s village against the backdrop of the Israel Jewish settlements and the non-violent protests that never seem to get any publicity. “It’s good to talk and good to meet, but the solution show come from the politicians and the people who can make decisions. I don’t have anything to give you. I’m seeking peace and freedom. I don’t want the same experience for my sons that I’ve gone through all my life. We want to live as humans and survive as humans. It’s not much to ask is it?"

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Guy Davidi (left) and Emad Burnat (right), co-directors of the Oscar®-nominated Documentary Feature film "5 Broken Cameras”  


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