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Cinema Eye releases statement defending Poitras

Monday, April 9th, 2012 by

Earlier today Cinema Eye, the film organization that hosts the Cinema Eye Honors and advocates for artistry and craft in nonfiction filmmaking, released a statement in protest of the treatment of Award-Winning Filmmaker Laura Poitras by the Department of Homeland Security.

The DHS is cited with six different incidents of detaining and interrogating Poitras upon re-entry to the United States on international flights, and shows no sense of remorse for its actions – calling them necessary to national security. The incidents include search and confiscation of Poitras’ personal electronic devices including film and documents related to her most recent works.

Here is the statement, signed by the full Cinema Eye Executive Board as well as our Filmmaker Advisory Board, of which Poitras serves as Chair. The letter is also signed by 25 Cinema Eye nominated filmmakers, including five Academy Award winners:

As members of the nonfiction filmmaking community, we want to express our outrage over the ongoing harassment of our colleague Laura Poitras by the US government and the Department of Homeland Security. We call on the Obama administration to investigate this abuse of power and to bring an end to this persistent violation of America’s bedrock principle of a free press.

Laura Poitras is one of America’s most important nonfiction filmmakers, the recipient of the 2011 Cinema Eye Honor for Outstanding Achievement in Direction for her landmark film, The Oath, and the chair of our Filmmaker Advisory Board. She was nominated for a Best Documentary Feature Oscar and twice has been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for her work. Her long list of credits, awards and impeccable credentials would be easy for anyone to verify.

Over the course of the last several years, as Laura has been working to chronicle the post-9/11 world and the effect of American policies here and abroad, she has been repeatedly harassed, detained, interrogated and has had her cameras and computers seized by Homeland Security officials as she attempts to re-enter her home country.

Not once in more than three dozen detentions and interrogations has Homeland Security found anything to justify this chronic abuse of power.

Within the last week, as Laura was returning from a recent trip abroad, she was once again detained. This time, however, she was also threatened with being handcuffed for attempting to take notes during her interrogation.

Nonfiction filmmakers perform a vital role in a democratic society, serving as observers and investigators of the world around us. It is unacceptable for any American nonfiction filmmaker or journalist to be treated in this manner. They must be able to return to their own country without fear of arrest or fear that their work product will be seized, solely because they are investigating or chronicling subject matter that may be sensitive or controversial.

We ask other members of the nonfiction film and journalism communities to protest this affront to a free press and we reiterate our call on the Obama administration to end these draconian and un-American policies once and for all.


Sean Farnel
Andrea Meditch
Esther Robinson
AJ Schnack
Nathan Truesdell
Cinema Eye Honors Executive Board

Mila Aung-Thwin
R.J. Cutler
Sam Green
Steve James
Ellen Kuras
Audrey Marrs
James Marsh
Morgan Spurlock
Jennifer Venditti
Cinema Eye Honors Filmmaker Advisory Board

Clio Barnard
Joe Berlinger
Michael Collins
Alex Gibney
Davis Guggenheim
Lixin Fan
Alma Har’el
Asif Kapadia
Lise Lense-Møller
Tia Lessin
Kim Longinotto
Jeff Malmberg
Darius Marder
Albert Maysles
Donal Mosher
Michael Palmieri
Louie Psihoyos
Bill Ross
Turner Ross
Chris Shellen
Bruce Sinofsky
Geoffrey Smith
Ricki Stern
Paul Taylor
Marina Zenovich

Cinema Eye, along with other reputable organizations, stand firm against the violations of justice Poitras has experienced over the past years. We hope that justice is served, and we can most past the loopholes in checks and balanced that have been established in our government out of fear. For more information on Laura Poitras visit some of these websites:


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