Shalom Life | August 06, 2015

REVIEW: Oscar Nominated '5 Broken Cameras' Offers "Powerful Truth" About Israel/Palestine Conflict

Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi's film is nominated for Best Documentary Feature

By: Eleanor Boddie

Published: January 23rd, 2013 in Culture » Film » Reviews

REVIEW: Oscar Nominated '5 Broken Cameras' Offers "Powerful Truth" About Israel/Palestine Conflict

5 Broken Cameras, directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi is a hidden gem in the vast sea of Oscar nominees this year. Nominated for Best Documentary and winner of the Sundance Festival’s 'World Cinema Directing Award', Burnat takes us on a powerful journey depicting the events in the village of Bil’in during the construction of the separation wall, and its subsequent removal and replacement by a concrete barrier.

Burnat documents (much to the lamentation of his wife) the construction of a wall between the new housing constructions for Israeli settlers and the remaining Palestinian land. Whilst the local villagers loose their land to construction sites, they do not loose hope, organizing non-violent protests in the form of marches and sit-ins. They are met with violent and bloody oppression from Israeli guards, who arrest 3 of the directors’ own brothers, shoot crowds (in which children are present) and physically assault anyone who is seen to “push their luck”. These occurrences are all captured on camera.

The powerful cinematic qualities of this David/Goliath tale lie in the source of its creation, Burnat’s five cameras. The rawness of the picture, often at time obscured by smoke bombs or slightly out of focus and wobbly due to Burnat's running to escape dangerous situation, make us realize just how real the situation is. We witness the arrest of local townspeople, nightly attacks on the village and even in some cases death and injury of unarmed Palestinians.

In a world that is ever more globalized, inter-connected and under-surveillance, it is apparent that 5 Broken Cameras offers a powerful truth about the conflict in this particular region of Israel. It offers no explanation of recordings, Burnat simply puts it out there and films as he states "to hold onto [my] memories]". What is arguably the films best feature is this very essence; Burnat is not a political correspondent or militant activist. He is a father, a husband, a brother who began filming his son’s birth and continued to keep track of what was happening to his village. The film isn’t to judge or preach but to record and prove that perhaps even in the sea of mass-media in which us regular folk swim, sometimes the truth is a little harder to see. Sometimes the media who regularly regale grievances for both Israel and Palestine, (each who has experienced suffering at the hands of the other) can sometimes desensitize us to the real issue at hand.

5 Broken Cameras shows the impact that the war is having on one small community, a mere blip in the big picture of this conflict. Israeli supporters, Palestinian supporters, or even those who have no interest in the conflict at all, will certainly be moved by this powerful documentary. They may even leave a little more educated and a little less certain of their original belief; I suppose that is the power and the purpose of documentary film.

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