Director: Emad Burnat & Guy Davidi
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
A member of a small Palestinian village records the conflict between his fellow villagers and Israeli settlers moving onto what used to be their land through the lens and life of five cameras until they are each broken by members of the Israeli military.
The various conflicts in the Middle East are no doubt highly emotional, politically charged subjects. As with most films of this nature, we're not really qualified to delve too deeply into the politics of this issue. We're not experts and cannot pretend to be as we are merely movie reviewers on a mission to watch as many films as possible. When we heard about how Emad Burnat was arrested prior to attending the Academy Awards in support of this Oscar nominated documentary, it got our attention and we wanted to watch this for ourselves.
"5 Broken Cameras" is clearly one-sided, but almost all documentaries are, and we have no horse in this race other than to review the film. It is a movie clearly made from the point of view of Emad Burnat, who lives in a small Palestinian farming village called Bil'in. According to the documentary, he and his fellow villagers have lived on and farmed this land for many generations. Their primary crop is olives, which they harvest from the olive trees in their village. Of course, there is an ongoing conflict between them and the state of Israel, which more than likely goes back long before Israel was ever a recognized country. The subjects of this documentary are Muslims living in what used to be called Palestine, but regardless of what country they are from, their families have been on the land in question for a long time through many generations who have been born and died there. This film isn't about the overall conflict, but rather, a smaller one based on Israel's decision to build a wall through their village, taking part of their land and giving it to Israeli settlers. Emad and his fellow villagers engage in non-violent protests against the building of this wall that encroaches on their land as they are often shot at or harassed by Israeli soldiers. Being a documentary, it is all on film in a sometimes graphic, always harrowing display.
Throughout this difficult to watch film, some of Emad's friends and fellow villagers are injured, killed, or arrested during these demonstrations, Emad himself included. It's a tragic and moving documentary that earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature. Now this isn't a film that paints Israel entirely in a bad light, though it isn't the most flattering portrayal, either. It is at an Israeli hospital where Emad receives treatment for life threatening injuries that occur within the film, something he says wouldn't have been possible in Palestine. Burnat also gets help from an Israeli lawyer who fights for Emad's cause in the courts. This is an intriguing documentary that gives a firsthand perspective on what's going on in that part of the world, as well as the activities that aren't shown in the western media since it doesn't fit the current political narrative. Well put together, Burnat's journey includes moments of humor, others of deep sadness, and ultimately display the circumstances some people in the world are subjected to on a daily basis simply because of a never-ending political conflict. This is a must see for documentary fans!
My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 95%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!