‘5 Broken Cameras’ loses out to ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ for best doc Oscar

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 54 Comments
Emad and Soraya Burnat with their son Jibreel on the red carpet entering the Academy Awards.
(Photo: 5 Broken Cameras)

The awards have been announced and alas 5 Broken Cameras didn’t win the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary (the Oscar went to Searching for Sugar Man). Regardless, Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s film continues to be an inspiration.

5 Broken Cameras was one of two nominated documentaries that focused on the conflict. Also losing out was the Israeli anti-occupation documentary The Gatekeepers, which was based on interviews by six former heads of the Israeli security service, regretting measures Israel has undertaken to enforce the illegal occupation.

Read Emad Burnat’s Oscar nominee questionnaire:

(Image: Twitter)

Visualizing Palestine created the following graphic for the film:

BD6uuCBCYAIm129 jpg large 1
About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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54 Responses

  1. just
    February 24, 2013, 10:45 pm

    He’s the winner in my book. He’s brought great exposure to the Occupation and all its attendant horrors. I am disappointed not to see him run up there and claim a victory in front of the world, and a shot of his wife and son clapping with joy.

  2. jimmy
    February 24, 2013, 10:50 pm

    i dont know..the young one ..looks like he could be a trouble maker…

    sound the red alert

  3. thankgodimatheist
    February 24, 2013, 11:17 pm


  4. Avi_G.
    February 24, 2013, 11:18 pm

    Sometimes it’s not about winning, sometimes it’s about the journey.

    Let us not forget what a tremendous difference the mere nomination of the film has made.

    I congratulate Emad Burnat for making a remarkable film and I know that millions of audiences who saw — and will see — the film feel the same. Perhaps that type of recognition is far more meaningful and important.

    As an aside, Jibreel — Emad’s son’s name — is the Arabic “Gabriel”, a Christian name. Emad and his wife are Moslem.

    I hope Christian Zionists are paying attention.

    • kylebisme
      February 25, 2013, 3:35 am

      Surely Gabriel isn’t a particularity uncommon name among Muslims? After all, the angel plays a rather key roll in Islam:


    • thankgodimatheist
      February 25, 2013, 4:28 am

      “Emad’s son’s name — is the Arabic “Gabriel”, a Christian name.”
      Also a Muslim name, Avi. Remember Ahmad Jibreel/Jibril leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC)? The name of the archangel is also cited in the Qur’an as Jibra’eel.

      • FreddyV
        February 25, 2013, 8:27 am

        Christian Zionists don’t consider Palestinian Christians to really be Christians……..

      • Avi_G.
        February 25, 2013, 10:21 am

        kylebisme, thankgodimatheist,

        I don’t deny what you wrote. But let’s explore this further, how did the name Jibreel get into the Qur’an? Did it not have its origins in Christianity? That was my original point.

      • kylebisme
        February 25, 2013, 12:28 pm

        The origin of the name clearly predates Christianity. Scroll up on that Wiki article I linked to the section on Judaism.

      • thankgodimatheist
        February 25, 2013, 5:22 pm

        Yes Avi. Viewed from that angle, you’re right.

    • RoHa
      February 25, 2013, 6:39 pm

      “As an aside, Jibreel — Emad’s son’s name — is the Arabic “Gabriel”, a Christian name. Emad and his wife are Moslem.”

      It was Jibreel (the angel) who recited the Qur’an to Muhammad.

  5. thankgodimatheist
    February 24, 2013, 11:28 pm

    The role of Hollywood in enabling Israel is immense and not only for having created myths like the vile Exodus. More importantly in their past and ongoing effort to shape and control the image of an ugly, backward, terror-loving Arab that no decent American can sympathise with no matter how victimised he can be. The place for a victim is already taken. Eternally one can add.

    • Bumblebye
      February 25, 2013, 11:09 am

      The IOF can’t cope with the doc!

      They’re skeered of it!


      “The organization…warned that IDF soldiers who appear in the movie may be in danger, and they call on these soldiers to contact them in case there is a need to ask the Attorney General to charge the makers of the movie with incitement.”

      The spoof cartoon video is pathetic.

    • Kathleen
      February 25, 2013, 11:31 am

      During the Oscar’s Seth MacFarlane’s bear character (not sure of its name) said to the co star with the bear “Are you Jewish, I am Jewish and give lots and lots of money to Israel which assures me of a job in Hollywood for the rest of my life” Not the exact quote but real close. Transcripts not out yet but that one jumped out at me while we watched the Oscars. So curious about the process of choosing and who chooses best this and best that. Shocked that Argo won best picture was that because Affleck appears to be promoting the go attack Iran agenda? odd

      • thankgodimatheist
        February 25, 2013, 4:31 pm

        Kathleen. Here it is on Youtube. Ted the bear and Mark Walberg. “Are you Jewish? I’m Jewish”
        Ted And Mark Wahlberg @ 2013 Oscars Academy Awards

  6. DICKERSON3870
    February 24, 2013, 11:32 pm

    RE: “The awards have been announced and alas 5 Broken Cameras didn’t win the Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary (the Oscar went to Searching for Sugar Man).” ~ Adam Horowitz

    MY COMMENT: According to Guy Davidi, industry insiders warned him that pressure was exerted on the Academy to stop either 5 Broken Cameras or The Gatekeepers from winning the Oscar® for Best Documentary.

    SEE: “Pictures speak volumes in Oscar-nominated Israeli films”, By Jonathan Cook, Israeli Occupation Archive, 2/20/13

    [EXCERPT] Israelis have been revelling in the prospect of an Oscar night triumph next week, with two Israeli-financed films among the five in the running for Best Documentary. But the country’s right-wing government is reported to be quietly fuming that the films, both of which portray Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories in a critical light, have garnered so much attention following their nominations.
    Guy Davidi, the Israeli co-director of 5 Broken Cameras, one of the finalists, says industry insiders had warned him that pressure was being exerted on the Academy to stop the films winning the award.
    “Many people in Hollywood are working very hard to make sure that neither film wins,” he says. “From Israel’s point of view, an Oscar would be a public relations disaster and mean more people get to see our films.”

    Davidi’s film is a searing account by the Palestinian filmmaker Emad Burnat of a six-year period in his West Bank village during which the residents non-violently protested an Israeli wall that cut off their farmland.
    Israeli soldiers are shown beating, tear-gassing and shooting the villagers and solidarity activists. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://www.jonathan-cook.net/2013-02-20/pictures-speak-volumes-in-oscar-nominated-israeli-films/

    • Erasmus
      February 25, 2013, 6:14 am

      Re: …” According to Guy Davidi, industry insiders warned him that pressure was exerted on the Academy to stop either 5 Broken Cameras or The Gatekeepers from winning…”

      Thinking about the composition of the Academy Jurors, I can well imagine, that there was no pressure needed, not to select “5 briken cameras”.
      In light of this, it would have been indeed a stunning surprize, if it did.
      Anyway, whatever, the nomination itself has been a formidable achievement and recognition of the film and its main message.

      And my unqualified applause and respect … goooooooes to: EMAD BURNAT + the entire TEAM involved in making the documentary, above all all BILIN’ers.

      Chapeau ! for their year-in and year-out perseverance and adherence to non-violence.

    • German Lefty
      February 25, 2013, 6:46 am

      @ DICKERSON3870:
      “Guy Davidi says industry insiders had warned him that pressure was being exerted on the Academy to stop the films winning the award.”
      Thanks a lot for the link. I had already suspected something like this.

      I am really disappointed that “5 Broken Cameras” didn’t win, but I am also kind of relieved that it didn’t lose to “The Gatekeepers”. If a documentary about the occupation wins, then it should be the Palestinian one.

      Yesterday, there was a six-minute segment about “The Gatekeepers” on German TV. “5 Broken Cameras” was ignored again.
      You can watch the video (German residents only) or read the transcript here:
      In the segment, the documentary was called “spectacular”, “sensational” and “shocking”. “The candour of the former secret service chiefs leaves you speechless.” However, the Nazi comparison that one of the interviewees made in the documentary was omitted. (Honestly, I wonder if that part will be cut out of the documentary or translated differently when it airs on German TV.) It was said in the segment that “Israelis and Palestinians are in a perpetual state of war”, that “the Shin Bet tries to ensure security but fails miserably” and that “the Shin Bet fights terror with terror”. Despite all the negative criticism of the Shin Bet, it sounds as if both sides are blamed for the existence of the conflict. And now the Israelis (read: Zionists) appear to be morally superior, because they show that they are capable of self-criticism, whereas the evil , evil Palestinians still don’t want to admit that they make mistakes, too.

      “The Gatekeepers” (German title: Töte zuerst – Der israelische Geheimdienst) will air on Wednesday, 6th March, at 10:45 p.m on ARD.

      Besides, great graphic by Visualizing Palestine.

  7. Mike_Konrad
    February 24, 2013, 11:40 pm

    Whatever one thinks of the film’s documentary merit; I found it dull.

    I am watching it right now on Netflix AGAIN!

    5 Broken Cameras is not a great documentary.

    A great documentary is not only factual but captivating. 5 Broken Cameras is not captivating.

    It may be moving but it is not captivating.

    I do not think you can pin this on anti-Palestine prejudice solely. I am not even sure if you can say prejudice is the determining factor.

    • Avi_G.
      February 25, 2013, 12:53 am

      Wow, you’re a real charmer.

      Setting aside whether YOU subjectively found 5 Broken Cameras to be captivating, edge-of-your-seat thrilling, the least you could do is say something nice to the man for making the film.

      But even that you couldn’t muster. How classy of you.

    • Philip Munger
      February 25, 2013, 1:28 am

      A great documentary is not only factual but captivating

      Interesting. What are your top ten favorites that fit that bill, MK?

    • kalithea
      February 25, 2013, 2:15 am

      “I am not even sure if you can say prejudice is the determining factor.”


      Note the jeers in 2:53 to 3:07 and I’ll bet the farm–nothing’s changed since then.

      Oh and it’s one thing to create a “captivating” documentary with all kinds of support around you and quite under to film UNDER A BRUTAL FASCIST OCCUPATION. Try it and get back to me. One should be humbled by that kind of courage……uh, on second thought…

      Why sully my pearls…?

    • justicewillprevail
      February 25, 2013, 4:09 am

      “I do not think you can pin this on anti-Palestine prejudice solely. I am not even sure if you can say prejudice is the determining factor.”
      Oh, I think you can. Not to mention your completely arbitrary, artificial distinction between ‘moving’ and ‘captivating’. Entirely subjective and irrelevant.
      The point is, he got this far. Which is extraordinary, moving and captivating in fact. Despite the overwhelming odds against him, the attempts to kill him, the difficulties involved in just surviving the occupation with any semblance of dignity or sanity, the perseverance required to carry on and make this, the obstacles every step of the way, including even getting to LA, he got there and the message is out to a huge worldwide audience: The occupation is evil and the people who perpetrate it are sadistic supremacists who deserve to be shamed and condemned. And they are and will be. Fantastic achievement.

    • Light
      February 25, 2013, 2:57 pm

      Dull enough to watch it a second time. That sounds like an endorsement to me.

  8. chocopie
    February 25, 2013, 2:13 am

    Congratulations to Emad Burnat and all the people of Bilin for their steadfastness and courage.

    Looks like Soraya Burnat is wearing Palestinian embroidery. Probably a first at the Oscars, and I hope we’ll see more of it in the future. Beautiful.

  9. biorabbi
    February 25, 2013, 2:14 am

    5 Broken Cameras was fantastic. Talk about an interesting, micro-lowbudget picture. There were two movies looking at the same thing from a different perspective, hence 5 Broken Cameras didn’t have a chance. Gatekeepers and Broken Cameras perhaps cut each other out in the voting is my guess.

  10. Citizen
    February 25, 2013, 2:32 am

    The least important documentary won. Also, the least interesting won best picture; The Academy must have loved those subhuman raving Iranians trying to kill the Americans before they escaped. That never happened; and that’s more than poetic/artistic license when Afleck sold his film as “base on true history, although not a documentary.”

    Neither pick was a surprise to anyone.

    • marc b.
      February 25, 2013, 8:36 am

      Afleck sold his film as “base on true history, although not a documentary.”

      that’s the same horse bleep way zero dark 30 was marketed. both films are historical in the same sense as americans’ memory of sadam’s involvement in the 9-11 plot.

      • Kathleen
        February 25, 2013, 10:57 am

        thank you marc…have not seen Argo yet but Affleck has been on MSM outlets talking the neocon trash about Iran and was doing it again last night. Odd that Argo did not win anything else but won best picture. Helping cultivate the bad bad bad Iran agenda. Just how is it that the Academy picks and who are the folks who choose the winners?

        Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field were robbed. Lincoln too

      • hophmi
        February 25, 2013, 12:47 pm

        Argo won several other awards, including Film Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay.

      • marc b.
        February 25, 2013, 1:59 pm

        Argo won several other awards, including Film Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay.

        yes, but you do understand kathleen’s greater point about the misrepresentation of the film (and zd30) as a quasi-documentary and its propaganda uses?

      • Cliff
        February 25, 2013, 2:22 pm

        The context is the oscars.

        And so Argo won three total.

        What other oscars did it won, hoppy? Was there a secret ceremony where it won more oscars than last nite?


      • hophmi
        February 26, 2013, 8:16 am

        She said it won nothing but best picture; that was obviously wrong, so I was just correcting her.

      • marc b.
        February 26, 2013, 4:52 pm

        so, in other words, you missed her point. thanks for the clarification.

    • Kathleen
      February 25, 2013, 10:54 am

      Argo won absolutely nothing else. Have not seen the movie but Affleck sure spends time helping create the bad bad bad Iran image when he speaks about the film. Helping build the stage for a pre-emptive attack on Iran in my book. Affleck seems to be part of the attack Iran team now.

      Have only read about the academy and its strategy for choosing best film etc. Sure makes you wonder. Lincoln should have won hands down in many peoples books.

      Seth McFarlane got in a zinger during the Oscars when his bear said “are you Jewish, I’m Jewish and I give lots and lots of money to Israel which assures me jobs in Hollywood for the rest of my life” Not totally accurate but close. A serious zinger. Bet he will never be the host of the Oscars again.

      • Kathleen
        February 25, 2013, 11:43 am

        Argo won two other awards. Have yet to see Argo but have been taken aback by hearing Affleck on a couple of MSM outlets sounding very much like he is now part of the team pushing for an attack on Iran based on unsubstantiated claims

      • marc b.
        February 25, 2013, 2:02 pm

        i understand that afflac has political ambitions, kathleen. he’s just laying the groundwork. (so much for ‘liberal’ hollywood).

      • hophmi
        February 25, 2013, 12:47 pm

        Argo won several other awards, including Film Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay.

        “Bet he will never be the host of the Oscars again.”

        He has already said several times he is only hosting once.

      • Cliff
        February 25, 2013, 2:22 pm

        Good cuz he was awful.

      • Kathleen
        February 25, 2013, 6:07 pm

        That one line out of the bear will ensure he will only host once. I liked him. But the crowd did not because most of them seemed incapable of laughing at themselves.

      • hophmi
        February 26, 2013, 8:18 am

        “That one line out of the bear will ensure he will only host once. ”

        Do you have any proof of that statement? It’s a scripted joke. Rest assured it was vetted first. You seem to think there is this cabal of Jews out there.

  11. kalithea
    February 25, 2013, 2:47 am

    My message to all Palestinians is NEVER GIVE UP AND NEVER GIVE IN to the occupation and the ignorance that sustains it. The time is coming, the drip sounds louder, the focus is sharper and the truth will not be contained within those Zionist walls of oppression. Don’t ever lose sight of the prize! Record everything! Your struggle and tragedy will inspire other Burnats to shoot for the stars with the power of truth and the ultimate prize will be yours: FREEDOM!

  12. Cliff
    February 25, 2013, 3:49 am

    Emad is a real hero.

    I loved the answers he gave to the questionnaire. Real sincerity. Real heart.

    I knew he wasn’t going to win because this is Hollywood we’re talking about.

    But he made the documentary. The single fact that it got made and got exposed and got nominated is enough. His journey and that of his village needed to be seen and heard by as many people as possible.

  13. quercus
    February 25, 2013, 6:25 am

    You have to ask whether it would have even been nominated had it NOT had an Israeli co-director. I doubt it would have.

  14. Allison Deger
    February 25, 2013, 7:21 am

    I think out of the two, 5 Broken Cameras was the better film. It’s quite impressive to edit years of footage into a linear narrative, and the hand-cam should have felt shaky and unprofessional, but instead it just seemed intimate. Gatekeepers on the other hand has pretty standard cinematography. I would have liked to have seen the other films, especially the one that won, to have a basis for comparison. Anyone see Sugar Man? Was it worth the award?

    • David Samel
      February 25, 2013, 12:22 pm

      Sugarman was a remarkable film, with an amazing story about an amazing man. I’m not surprised at all that it won – months ago, I left the theater thinking it would. I didn’t see Gatekeepers but Cameras was a great movie and ultimately much more important than the personal story told in Sugarman. Let’s all thank the LA authorities who detained Burnat and gave his movie considerable additional publicity it deserves

  15. Maximus Decimus Meridius
    February 25, 2013, 11:36 am

    Can’t say I’m surprised. A nomination is one thing, but there is no way the Academy would risk having a real live Palestinian (!) on stage. They’d be utterly terrified lest he do a Redgrave.

  16. Kathleen
    February 25, 2013, 11:39 am

    ok here we go

    Oscars’ awkward ‘Jew’ jokes
    Character created by host Seth McFarlane spanks the Academy with segment about Jewish control of the film industry

    Like the characters on “Family Guy,” McFarlane’s long-running TV cartoon, the stuffed bear’s function is to make others squirm with inappropriate, arguably hateful comments. His focus during the Oscars was on gaining acceptance in Hollywood — so he could attend an orgy after the ceremony — and his strategy was ingratiating himself to the industry’s Jews.

    “You know what’s interesting? All those actors I just named are part Jewish,” the bear informed Wahlberg, after naming nominees Joaquin Phoenix, Alan Arkin and Daniel Day-Lewis. (For the record, Arkin is Jewish on both sides of his family, and Phoenix and Day-Lewis have Jewish mothers.)

    “Oh, okay,” Wahlberg responded, pretending to be a bit flustered.

    “What about you? You’ve got a ‘berg’ on the end of your name. Are you Jewish?” continued the bear, voiced by McFarlane.

    When Wahlberg clarified that he’s Catholic, the stuffed animal whispered, “Wrong answer. Try again.”

    The segment then shifted into a series of claims by the character that he’s Jewish, including the news that he “was born Theodore Shapiro,” and that “I would like to donate money to Israel and continue to work in Hollywood forever. Thank you.”

  17. Betsy
    February 25, 2013, 12:37 pm

    Sugar Man is an amazing film — one of the best docs I’ve seen for years. I would have loved to see 5 Broken Cameras win also. But, Sugar Man was stiff competition. Like 5 Broken Cameras, it’s the opposite of Hollywood, understated, unpretentious, devastating, haunting look at Detroit, economic class in America, entertainment/music corporate industry vs. real art. But, in surprising ways, it also grapples with South African apartheid & progressive white consciousness & white rebellion against apartheid.

    I was actually surprised Sugarman got nominated because it is so quiet & powerful & slow & deep. I spent years in Detroit as the city was collapsing — this film captures something crucial about America that almost never makes it to the big screen.

    So, in very different ways, both films engage apartheid and identity politics. Both emotionally devastating & incredibly honest & clear-eyed.

    • Cliff
      February 25, 2013, 3:13 pm

      I’m gona have to see it. My money was on Plague. All the documentaries were good.

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