5 Broken Cameras: A Review


The story starts in 2005 when the Israeli occupation forces started building their infamous separation fence in the Palestinian village of Bil’in. Realizing that it would be cutting through their agricultural land, confiscating around 50% of it, the villagers started a popular resistance that would soon gain international support, gathering Israeli and International activists to their side.

5 Broken Cameras (2011) tells that story. Through the stories of 5 cameras, each with its own individual story, we are taken through the development of this occupation and its effects on one of the directors’, Emad Burnat‘s, life. His son is growing. His two best friends are leading the fight. He knows he has nowhere else to go. He picks up his camera and starts shooting.

He is eventually joined by the Israeli director Guy Davidi and, together, 5 Broken Cameras is born. The music? Le Trio Joubran of course. This movie has the soul of Mahmoud Darwish written all over it.

Emad Burnat, right, with his Israeli co-director Guy Davidi. Photograph: Damian Dovarganes/AP, retrieved from The Guardian
Emad Burnat, right, with his Israeli co-director Guy Davidi.
Photograph: Damian Dovarganes/AP, retrieved from The Guardian

“I’ve known since the beginning that the camera is a very strong witness and a very strong weapon. And I decided to use the camera, even when my brother got arrested, even when my friend got killed. I knew that this footage is going to be used for important events.”

This is a movie of humiliation (Burnat would know: he was recently humiliated at LAX) , of resistance, of hope and of outrage. Indeed, one cannot help yelling inwardly at some of the scenes documented throughout the movie. Many come to mind.

“My mother and father try to stop the jeep. I keep on thinking, “what should I do?” I have to believe that capturing these images will have some meaning.”

How his parents tried to stop the Israeli soldiers from taking his brother away. How the Israeli surveyor came to his land to take measurements, to allow the separation barrier to be built. How he realized that the day he woke up in a Tel Aviv hospital was the day Israel started its attack on Gaza in 2008.

“My recovery is just a drop in a sea of violence”, he tells us.

But we are also moved. As the Olive Trees are destroyed, killed, his son Gibreel is born. 5 Broken Cameras is also a movie of joy, and love.

Watching it and related videos:

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