Michael Moore tweeted his followers to watch the film about Palestine that launched earlier in the departed year called 5 Broken Cameras. Twice. The chieftain of cinematic guerrilla activism sings it up as “one of the best films of the year” and ”that rare documentary that has the power to move many. Pls watch!”
Moore reveals a deeper connection to the film than suggested by those lonesome tweets. It took home the best picture award at the Traverse City Film Festival founded by Moore in his native Michigan. And he’s spoken at a number of screenings in the US. A video of one such pre-screening talk shows the extent of his directorial admiration for Emad Burnat’s film and the significant Israeli obstacles he has had to climb to showcase the debut Palestinian talent.
I was able to get Emad to Traverse City, Michigan. He’d gone to the airport in Tel Aviv and they wouldn’t let him leave. And so we had to get him to Amman to get on a plane there. But because I run a large international network of terrorists we were able to make this happen (laughs). I have been a huge advocate for this film for the better part of the last year. I was just telling Tom (the event’s co-organisier) downstairs that if I were the third Koch brother and had their resources … I would send a copy of this film to every home in America. And I believe that within 24 hours, if people would watch it, public opinion on this issue would change dramatically. This film is so powerful in its humanity, in its heart, its belief in non-violence as the way to succeed.
When Emad and his family were in Traverse City, Terry George, who made Hotel Rwanda, and I were introducing the film and then we did a Q&A afterwards and Terry said something I thought was really very true: every now and again a documentary comes along that after you see it you won’t discuss it as a documentary, you will discuss it as a work of art, a work of cinema, a movie. And we feel very strongly that this is one of those movies. This is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, of all movies, not just documentaries. And their struggle goes on as you will see. This man is not a documentary film maker – he’s a farmer. And the film that you are about to watch is a film made by a farmer. With no training whatsoever. And I don’t even think that they have a theatre in their town so I don’t even know what he’s seen.
So that makes it even more amazing as you watch this film, and you’re realising that sometimes if you have that, whatever that is in you, whatever you have to say, you want your voice heard, and he found the medium to do that, quite accidentally: because his son, Jibreel, was born in 2005 and he picked up a used home video camera; and started you know wanting to film his son growing up but things started happening, they (Israel) started building the wall to bleed their town, so he started filming that, and the title of the film, as is probably self-evident, in terms of what happens to his cameras. One thing we did in Traverse City town is that when he left we sent him a brand new camera (laughs) so he can keep filming. A small price to pay for trying to right a horrible, horrible wrong.
So I’m really happy that he came here tonight to watch this; and I encourage you in terms of not only your appreciation of the art of this film, but also when you leave here, when you think about this tomorrow, to do what you can to help other people who don’t have five broken cameras, don’t have a voice. We (Americans) are the funder of what you are about to see.