Sunday, August 19, 2012

5 Broken Cameras

5 Broken Cameras is Emad Burnat's personal account of how his village tries to defend its land between 2005 and 2010. There are two attacks on the land owned by the people of Bil’in. The Israeli army takes a strip of land to build the West Bank barrier (and its associated road) that cuts off villagers off from most of their land. The Jewish settlers from the adjacent settlement of Modi'in Illit, burn and bulldoze olive trees and build more houses and apartments on some of the cut off land.

In 2005 Bil’in petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court (via an Israeli human rights lawyer). On September 4, 2007, the Court ordered the government to change the route of the wall near Bil'in. The next day the same court legalized the parts of Modi'in Illit being built on Bil'in land (more background here).

5 Broken Cameras is not about the court cases taking place across the border but with the situation on the ground. It is about Emad Burnat filming his family trying to farm on the other side of the barrier. It is about the villagers led by two of his friends demonstrating against the barrier in a well known weekly protest. Protesting against settlers putting portable buildings to claim the land and the villagers putting up building of their own in a counter point. Emad also films the soldiers as they come to the village both day and night to arrest men and boys.

The Israeli soldiers don't like being filmed and constantly tell Emad to stop, even when he is in his own house. The settlers are even more outraged at being filmed and far less restrained in their reactions. During the 5 years that Emad films what is going on in and around Bil'in 5 of his cameras are smashed or shot, this coupled with time in jail and time in hospital means that there are gaps in the narrative but that doesn't detract from the impact of the film. The broken cameras punctuate the film and divide it into chapters.

4 years after Bil'in won in the court, the Israeli army started to dismantle the barrier and built a new wall closer to Modi'in Illit and further from Bil'in but still on their land.

5 Broken Cameras is filmed and narrated by Emad Burnat with editing and further direction by Guy Davidi and funding and post production from various other countries.

If you think that the Jewish-Palestinian conflict is too complicated to understand or that the conflict is all about Jews defending themselves from Palestinian aggression then this is a must see film. If you are already aware of the theft of Palestinian land by Israel, then this more personal view of the situation, filmed and narrated by a local villager (rather than an outsider) may appeal to you.

Ian's rating 3.5/5

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