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5 Broken Cameras

broken cameras

“5 Broken Cameras” is a homemade documentary about a conflict between Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank.  If you are familiar with the West Bank conflict, you might find this a compelling documentary.   I’m not more than passing familiar with the conflict, and didn’t know what was happening or why most of the time.  I was tempted to stop and read the wikipedia page on “West Bank” to figure out what was going on.  You might want to do that before watching this.   It’s not a teaching documentary; it’s not interested in explaining what’s going on.

Palestinian Emad Burnat filmed it; he is a resident of Bil’in, a village affected by the West Bank conflict, and his filming is mostly of Palestinians in their efforts to protest what the Israelis are doing.  His cameras keep getting broken in the process; usually by Israeli soldiers who aren’t happy that he’s filming the protests.  At one point, they actually come to his door, and he opens it with the camera on – within his own house – and they insist that he turn it off, and when he doesn’t they break it.

The lack of information about the situation is frustrating, but it also sets the whole thing in a different light – removed from the specifics of the West Bank conflict, it becomes a documentary about nonviolent protest in the face of institutionalized power.  It becomes universal, at least a little bit.  Forget when and where this is taking place, and it can be a film about standing up against injustice when there’s little hope of anything changing, when the other side is much better armed and organized than you are, when every confrontation between you and them can only end in defeat – sometimes terribly costly defeat – for you.  If you can set aside what you do or don’t know about the West Bank, or the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in general, you might enjoy it more as a film.

Verdict: Recommended if you’re in the mood for a not-terribly-entertaining film about the oppressed struggling against the System.

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