The Seattle International Film Festival brings to its program a movie from Palestine. It is about the conflict between Palestine and Israel, and what it means to grow up in one of these countries, in the midst of this devastation.
5 Broken Cameras opens with an introduction to the titular recording devices, each lined up on a table to represent a chapter in cameraman Emad Burnat’s amazing documentation of a microcosm of the Palestinean/Israeli conflict.
The first camera was purchased for the birth of Gibreel, one of his sons, in 2005. This was the same time that Bil’in, his hometown just west of Ramallah in the West Bank, saw Israeli bulldozers tear up the town’s olive trees to make way for a wall that was to surround an advancing Jewish settlement. Outraged, the town peacefully protested and became engaged is a six-year resistance.
As the situation intensifies, the cameras are damaged beyond repair and systematically replaced as Burnat captures the personalities and passions involved in the conflict. While the resistance trudges on, Gibreel grows from an infant into an aware young boy, becoming part of the struggle. He’ s a sobering reminder that children who are raised in conflict only understand a simplified black-and-white perspective on war that codifies their future prejudices.
Burnat and co-director Guy Davidi have taken a single, specific context, and illuminated the universally harrowing effects that any conflict brings to the lives of its participants.
Emad Burnat is a Palestinian freelance cameraman and photographer. His experience includes filming for TV channels such as Al-Jazeera, Israeli channels 1, 2 and 10, and Palestinian Television. He has worked with Reuters news agency, and filmed footage for several documentaries, including Bil’in, My Love, Palestine Kids, Open Close, and Interrupted Streams.