I spent this morning calling friends to get their friends and their friends’ friends to go down and see the film, Five Broken Cameras. I saw it last night, and I was blown away.
Anybody’s who interested in peace, justice in Palestine/Israel, has to see this movie. It’s an incredible documentary about the steadfastness of the villagers in Bil’in and of the steadfastness of this one fellow, Emad Burnat, who wanted to report what was happening to his village and the taking of the land. And it’s a testament to the the Israelis who are supporting the people of Bil’in, that they got the wherewithal to make a world-class showing, of the standard of the Battle of Algiers, although this is a documentary, and Battle of Algiers was a staged recreation.
The film interweaves this fellow Burnat’s life and his family’s life and the story of his youngest child Gibreel over the five years of these demonstrations, what happens with this child– the filming, the raids on the village, the Israelis’ arrests of young boys. And all of this is interwoven into a story that is immensely powerful.
I went to see the 6:30 show and Carl Schieren [of JVP] was there and he told me that one of the directors of the film would be at the following showing of the film, so we went and had dinner and came back. And Guy Davidi the Israeli director stood for a while and answered some questions. He said they wanted to show this in America even more than in Israel, because the US is so critical for what happens there. He said that when he came to make this film, he was dubious, because other films had been made about Budrus and Bil’in and other villages trying to stop confiscation of their lands. He thought, maybe I could find an angle that would be more interesting– and the angle was the story of co-director Burnat, this man who was doing the filming and having his cameras destroyed by the Israeli military.
I saw that the other director, Emad Burnat, will be coming to the Film Forum to answer questions on Sunday and Tuesday and I urge you to go.
When I was calling around today, one friend asked Does the film humanize Arabs? Absolutely. Absolutely. It shows a village’s commitment to a peaceful struggle and their family life. It shows their love for their children and their elderly and their grief at the dying of people in the demonstrations. All the things that make a human being human.
Also, it dispels all the images that people use to promote Islamophobia. The wife of the main protagonist, she covers her hair– and you see some Muslim funerals with the people carrying people martyred in demonstrations, and recitations of the Koran in the background– but these things look perfectly normal. These look like what they are: the perfectly normal everyday life of a people.
Another friend asked, Why did I go to the film in the first place? Well yesterday morning I saw the New York Times review of Five Broken Cameras in the arts section. And the essence of the review by A.O. Scott was, This is an intractable problem, there are no rights or wrongs here, it’s a tragedy. My first inclination was not to go see the movie on the basis of that review.
Then I said, I’m going to go see it because the Times is so often wrong. Well I went to see it for myself, and I was just dumbstruck between the gap between what that review was and what that movie was about. When you see the film, you can see why they didn’t give it a good review, they don’t want to promote something as being sympathetic to the Palestinians.