Wednesday, January 02, 2013

5 Broken Cameras

Emad Burnat with his "5 Broken Cameras"
I recently watched the documentary 5 Broken Cameras. I was surprised at how I personally connected to the story of a Palestinian farmer in Bil'in, a West Bank Village.

Our lives and worlds are miles apart, but there was an initial hook I didn't expect with the story of this non-violent protester. The connection, Emad Burnat is a father. The film starts with him getting his first video camera when his fourth son Gibreel is burn.

While the structure of this film is Emad's five cameras he has over a period of five years in the West Bank in a time when Israeli settlements are encroaching on his village, for me what I watched was not the story of five broken cameras, but of Gibreel's first five years.

Watching this film in the context of the Sandy Cook Elementary school shooting in New Town, Connecticut I was drawn to the idea of the innocents of children, and heart broken at what Emad Burnat's children were exposed to, particularly the violence that was part of their life.
Emad Burnat's Youngest Son, Gibreel

I was heartbroken when the first words of Gibreel are shared. They are "wall," "cartridge," and "army."

I was heartbroken at the sight of Gibreel joining a children's protest at the age of three.

And I was touched, troubled, and moved by some of the final lines of the film when co-director and father Emad Burnat says: "Gibreel is four-years old now...the only protection I can offer him is allowing him to see everything with his own eyes. So he can just see how vulnerable life is."

Directors Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi have done a fantastic job telling this story in such a sympathetic way, in a way that shows a history and footage that couldn't be found anywhere else.

Beyond the story of Emad and Gibreel the bigger story is interesting, even from the stand point that relative to other similar conflicts, I found the Isreali Army men seeming young, powerless, and uncertain of what actions that they should take in certain confrontations. The scenes were Emad goes to the hospital also reminded me another recent documentary from this area, Precious Life about another Palestinian/Israeli interactions. Films like this create a context that reminds us that things half a world away are real and involve real people, real families, and real everyday issues.

5 Broken Cameras is one of the fifteen documentary films short lsited by the Academy Awards for a potential Oscar nomination this year.

1 comment:

Emma Barrard said...

I haven't had the chance to watch the movie yet but now I'm really excited. You really did a great review on this one and it left me wanting for more. I really need to see that movie.