5 Broken Cameras: Screening and Directors’ Q&A
By Jim Treadway
"So many films have been made about the Israel-Palestine conflict", Israeli flimmaker Guy Davidi remarked to an audience at the Frontline Club on Friday night. But the documentary 5 Broken Cameras he made with Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat was "much more important than just another objective film about the movement," he said. It was a personal, emotional story "that everybody can connect to."
5 Broken Cameras relies on Burnat’s footage to chronicle his family’s and friends’ experiences waging non-violent protest against encroaching Israeli settlements into their West Bank village of Bil’in.
"I never thought of making films," Burnat narrates as the film begins. But in 2005, when his fourth son Gibreel was born, Burnat bought his first camera, "to rediscover the world through his [Gibreel’s] eyes."
As Gibreel grows up, he sees his father, uncles, and their friends arrested, imprisoned, and killed by Israeli soldiers. He plays with his brothers in fields where the concrete skeletons of new settlements loom in the distance. Burnat worries about how Israeli injustice has affected his sons.
"I am tired of just dealing with identity issues," Davidi reflected after the screening. "I’m just interested in the politics on the ground." He hoped his film had found:
"a new path, a new emotional path […] even for much of the so-called left wing in Israel, they’ve never experienced this. They’ve never experienced this emotional journey."
Both Davidi and Burnat focused on healing. Of Jews’ and Palestinians’ traumatic pasts, Davidi said during the Q&A:
"If you’re a victim, you have a responsibility to heal yourself, to find a way out."
Burnat’s narration echoed him:
"Healing is a challenge in life. It’s the victim’s sole obligation […] forgotten wounds can’t be healed, so I film […] it helps me confront life, and begin to heal."