Emad Burnat was an ordinary olive farmer in a village called Bil’in. His livelihood along with many others was put at risk when Israel decided to expand their settlement building and grab more Palestinian land. Emad and other villagers decided to do something about this and started peaceful protests every Friday in the place where Israel had planned to build part of the wall.
Around the same time Emad bought himself a video camera to document the birth of his youngest son. This film, started in 2005, then documented five years of his son’s life and the life, and death of those around him as he documents the protests at the wall and what happens. It also documents Emad’s way through his 5 camera’s and what happens to them.
I went to see this film at Warwick Arts Centre when they showed it in November. The bombing in Gaza had just started again and I couldn’t help but think about how timely the showing of this film was. I was happily surprised to see the cinema over half full, some faces I recognized through other Palestinian events, but there were others I had never seen before. Always good to see new faces with an interest in Palestine.
The film is a ‘fly on the wall’ documentary, with warts and all and is shocking in so many places. No-one going to see this could fail to be moved by seeing how the Israeli army treated many in this film. Some of it was very painful to watch, some of it was funny and many times you had to remind yourself that this was real life and not some big Hollywood action movie. And interspersed throughout the film we see Emad’s son growing up in this environment and how he as a child copes with life there.
This was one of these films that when the lights go on at the end, the audience sits in stunned silence. Many in tears, many in shock at what they have witnessed. Many remembering what they have seen and heard from being there.
This little known documentary has been nominated for an Oscar in the Best Documentary category this year. It has already won an award at the Sundance Film festival last year and has been championed by Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 9/11) who says “I personally feel it’s one of the most beautiful pieces of artistic cinema…You don’t see this on the evening news. You don’t see Palestinians portrayed this way.”
Yesterday I saw a clip where some Israeli teenagers were shown this film. Although the co producer of this is Israeli, this film will not be widely shown in Israel because of the consequences. Please watch and see for yourselves how these teenagers feel.
I do so hope that by showing films such as this, that the youth of Israel have more knowledge of the lands they live in instead of being fed one-sided propaganda. By this sort of education, change can and will happen for the best for both Israel and Palestine, feeling empathy towards each other instead of hate.
5 Broken Cameras is on sale now on Amazon (and I am sure from other retailers.)
I will be championing this at the Oscars and would love to see this ordinary Olive farmer holding an Oscar just because he wanted to show the world his life…and boy, what a life!
(Edited on 31/1/13 to add this link) This link will take you through to the film in its entirety.)