November 23, 2014

Review of Five Broken Cameras

Review of Five Broken Cameras written and directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
Rating *****

five broken camerasI’ve seen a lot of documentaries from the slickly produced films like The Imposter to homemade movies like Catfish. And the best ones all have one thing in common – they tell compelling stories. This film is one of the five films nominated for the best documentary Oscar. And I’m sure glad it has received that nomination because I doubt that I would have seen it otherwise.

It starts with a dad purchasing a camera for the birth of his fourth son, Gibreel. The dad happens to live in Palestine, close to the Israel border. The dad is not a filmmaker or a journalist, but he decides to film the occupation of his land by the Israelis. What he captures on five different cameras over the course of five years provides more insight into the Palestinian/Israeli conflict than could be explained in a hundred books and a thousand news broadcasts. And for Israel, it’s not a pretty picture.

I haven’t seen the other nominated films. I hope to see as many as I can before the awards show. But I hope this film is seen by a lot of people.

I’ll admit that I know very little about this conflict. But after watching this film, I feel that I have a much better understanding. I now know what it’s like to live in an occupied territory. I can understand the resentment that the Palestinians feel. If you watch this film, so will you.

I always believed that Israel and its people were on the right side of the conflict. Palestine is full of terrorists is the message I get from the media. Palestine is not full of terrorists. They are people like you and I. They want to live in peace. They want to live on their own land without the constant threat of being shot at. I know that there are Israelis who also want peace and opportunity. My message to them is to go see this film. There has to be a better way than to build walls to keep people out.

Toward the end of the film Emad is facing a possible arrest for his filming. His wife asks him to stop. “Enough with the filming,” she pleads. “What is going to happen to me and the kids if you are gone?”

Fortunately for us Emad didn’t stop filming, and now the world will get to see his personal struggle through the film captured on five broken cameras.

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