Review: 5 Broken Cameras

Before I delve into the pros and cons of this documentary, due to the nature of it I will try to be objective in my judgement and centre only on how this documentary is either good or bad on how it presents its argument and not on the politics behind it as I know this issue to be quite inflammatory.

This documentary was filmed between the years of 2005 and 2009 by a Palestinian called Emad Burnatt, using 5 cameras which over this 5 year period get broken and the footage from which has been turned into a documentary by an Israeli director, Guy Davidi. This documentary, since its release in 2011, has quickly been acclaimed as a world class piece of art, winning the World Cinema Directing Award for 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival and making the shortlist for the 2012 Academy Awards.

5 Broken Cameras is about how a Palestinian village, Bil’in , peacefully demonstrates against the Israeli West Bank Barrier which is crawling towards them and the settlers behind them ready to move in to the already built houses and flats waiting for them. They mostly use occasionally ingenius peaceful means such as demonstrations and chaining themselves to the wall, but sometimes they do use violent means. But as the documentary shows very well, these means are used when emotions are running high as well as frustration at their efforts to stop the wall. The documentary also shows the goliath-like challenges they face such as the ferocity of the Israeli Defence Force, who use tear gas and live ammunition to break up demonstrations which sometimes has women and children in them, as well as the Israeli settlers who react violently to the presence of the Palestinian when the villagers approach them.

The biggest TICK I can give this documentary is how they look not to present you with emotive images and hateful acts towards Palestinian children to manipulate your perception of the conflict, but instead presses the severity and seriousness of the issue through both informative and informal clips of demonstrations where the IDF use tear gas and shoot into the crowd to everyday meetings and interactions between members of the villagers as well as his own family. This technique of presenting their argument is held throughout the years and therefore create a well informed picture whereby to base your judgement on their conflict as well as creating a link between the villagers and you (the viewer) akin to a well written story where the characters are both interesting and develop well with their motives well understood. This is also used in the monotone, strangely unemotional narration, which combined with the violence and damage seen cleverly makes you feel sick and disgusted because of this extreme contrast between violence of the footage and calm and sometimes uncaring voice in the background of explosions and shots being fired.

The biggest CROSS about the documentary is very small as it is understandable why it isn’t there which the lack of a pro-Israel argument because it is simply not the point of _ 5 Broken Cameras_ to present a balanced an argument but a well based and informative argument through visual and audio evidence.

So simply put, 5 Broken Cameras is an effective and efficient documentary which shows a very detailed situation of not simply the basic picture of Palestine versus Israel, but how this individual community reacts to a growing threat through peaceful means and how the village evolves because of this struggle, and how the individuals develop as characters because of it.

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