5 Broken Cameras
As Emad Burnat’s fourth son is born, a steel barrier is raised which separates the Palestinian village of Bil’in from a new Israeli settlement in the West Bank in 2005, the ostensible end of the Second Intifada.
Emad films the proceeding five-year struggle for the removal of the barrier in singular detail. The product is 5 Broken Cameras, named after the equipment broken during the film’s recording.
The footage is almost entirely captured by Emad, and mostly focuses on the civilian engagements with Israeli soldiers, which over the years increase in violence with some terrible consequences. The film is unflinchingly intimate, and there can be no retreat from what is witnessed on screen to people who, moments before, were peaceful and happy.
Bil’in is a settlement on the West Bank of Israel, which is legally the territory of the Palestinian authority but remains under Israeli occupation. Burnat and his co-director, Guy Davidi, make no attempts to explain the political situation, and rather focus on the Bil’in Palestinians who live a life in which they feel compelled to protest against the expansion of the nearby settlements.
Despite being produced by both an Israeli (Davidi lives in Tel Aviv) and a Palestinian, the film (by nature of its content) takes an unerringly Palestinian perspective. This is a great strength in terms of focusing the film’s narrative, but anyone leaving the theatre for whom this had been a first encounter with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would most likely do so a partisan for Palestine.
But this cannot detract from the wonder that this film is – its accolades are many, and it isn’t hard to see why. There seems to have been no end of disasters for Emad during the film, whose life in the documented five years is incredible and sobering; yet, wherever he was, he had a camera in hand: documenting the injustices to himself, his family and friends. During a particularly emotive scene, his wife chastises him for his persistent documenting of events, which results in an arrest warrant.
To watch this film is to both be educated as to what the Palestinian people are still subjected to, and also to be inspired by the resilient, non-violent protestations of a people in pain.
5 Broken Cameras makes an unbroken promise to reveal the state of the Palestinian people.
For further information on the film’s production or history, click here.
Watch the trailer for 5 Broken Cameras here: