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Cinema Eye Protests Department of Homeland Security’s Ongoing Harassment of Award-Winning Filmmaker Laura Poitras

April 9, 2012 – New York, New York – Cinema Eye, the film organization that hosts the Cinema Eye Honors and advocates for artistry and craft in nonfiction filmmaking, is releasing a statement today to vigorously protest the Department of Homeland Security’s treatment of our valued colleague, Laura Poitras.

The letter is 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.

Update – Wednesday, April 11, 2012: More than 60 people from within the Cinema Eye community have added their names and their support to this letter.  This includes 41 additional nonfiction filmmakers, most of whom are previous Cinema Eye nominees, as well as members of our Advisory and Nominations Committees.  The list of filmmakers includes five more Academy Award winners, bringing the total number to 10.

Statement from Cinema Eye on Laura Poitras:

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

Heather Croall
Matt Dentler
Ben Fowlie
Brian Geldin
Ryan Harringrton
Thom Powers
Debra Zimmerman
Cinema Eye Honors Advisory Board

Clio Barnard
Joe Berlinger
Margaret Brown
Michael Collins
Carl Deal
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
Richard Press
Louie Psihoyos
Bill Ross
Turner Ross
Chris Shellen
Bruce Sinofsky
Geoffrey Smith
Ricki Stern
Paul Taylor
Marina Zenovich

Grover Babcock
Joslyn Barnes
Alan Berliner
Doug Block
Steven Bognar
Simon Chinn
John Christou
Patrick Creadon
Marshall Curry
Peter Davis
Josh Fox
Tom Fulford
Amy Grappell
Robert Greene
Andy Grieve
Todd Griffin
Chris Hegedus
Holly Herrick
Kirsten Johnson
Ross Kauffman
Sloane Klevin
Barbara Kopple
John Kusiak
Teddy Leifer
Mike Lerner
Eric Liebman
John Maringouin
Havana Marking
Michael Moore
Mike Nicholson
Jehane Noujaim
Christine O’Malley
Thomas Papapetros
Davina Pardo
D A Pennebaker
Matthew Porterfield
Julia Reichert
Jerry Rothwell
Gregers Sall
Jess Search
Lucia Small
David Smith
Annie Sundberg
Michael Taylor
Paul Thomas
Jean Tsien
Michael Tully
Kevin Walsh

Meira Blaustein
David Courier
Joanne Feinberg
Tine Fischer
Elena Fortes
Tom Hall
Doug Jones
Caroline Libresco
Artur Liebhart
David Nugent
Veton Nurkollari
Janet Pierson
Rachel Rosen
Charlotte Selb
Sky Sitney
David Wilson
Brit Withey
Cinema Eye Honors Nominations Committee

For more information on Laura Poitras: