Debra Chasnoff, Chair for the filmmakers of New Day Films, has written a letter to Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on behalf of documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, who was detained most recently at Newark International Airport on April 5, 2012. Ms. Poitras, an Oscar- and Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker, has left the US 40+ times over the past 6 years to film and work in places such as Iraq and Yemen. Almost every time she has attempted to come back home to the U.S., she has been detained and interrogated at length about her activities overseas by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents. Items such as her pens and notepads have been confiscated; some of her equipment has been seized and not returned for weeks.
These actions are making Poitras's job all the more difficult as CBP and DHS agents suspect her of crimes she has never committed. It is for this reason that Chasnoff and the 150+ filmmakers and members who comprise New Day Films ask the following questions of Ms. Napolitano and the DHS:
Along with reading the letter from New Day Films, you can learn more from a Salon.com article that looks at the issues controversial filmmakers must face—and the shortcuts and workarounds they must take—in this post-911 world.