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If ‘5 Broken Cameras’ wins an Oscar– then will you end the occupation?

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Tonight at the Film Forum, the directors of Five Broken Cameras will be answering questions about the film, which is shot in Bil’in over the seven years of the village’s historic protests. I can’t urge you strongly enough to go. 

There is a widespread sense inside our community that this film is The Horse; that it is the vehicle to bring wide attention to the horrors of the occupation. Abdeen Jabara has compared it to the Battle of Algiers. Jewish Voice for Peace is promoting the film: “5 Broken Cameras … is getting rave reviews from activists and critics alike.” “Wrenching,” Pamela Olson said to me as she was leaving the showing before mine on Sunday night, and she is right.

I found the movie devastating. There are two utterly noble characters in the film: Bassem Abu Rahmah and Adeeb Abu Rahmah. Each of these men  is as glorious as Zorba the Greek, giant spirits who lift their little town in opposition to the occupation, and they fail. Bassem—Phil, the Elephant—of course dies; readers of this site followed his tragic murder when it took place three years ago. Now to see him in all his beautiful wideshouldered bighipped grinning glory, surrounded by the children he felt closest to, it is uplifting and harrowing. Some day there will be statues of this great man.

5BrokenCameras cameras3 3
Still from 5 Broken Cameras: Adeeb & Bassem participate in Bil’in’s weekly protest against the wall (Photo: Kino Lorber)

As for Adeeb, he is a brave ham. He always likes to make a scene, director Emad Burnat says. Oh but what scenes. He caresses an olive tree in the film. There is this great confrontation with the soldiers. And when he is dolling himself up and Burnat asks if there is a wedding, Adeeb says, There is the weekly demonstration; it is better than any wedding!

And by the end of the movie, his spirit seems half-broken.

The other achievement of the movie is the depiction of the Israelis. They are all but evil. We see them shooting Bassem’s brother Daba point blank execution style in the leg, so that he will stop demonstrating. We see them crushing creative nonviolent resistance again and again. When the settlers come flying into their new high rises built on Bil’in’s land, one settler says on a cellphone, Get the furniture in, put up the mezzuzzah. It is a crass landgrab. When the villagers shower a Jeep that is carrying Adeeb away with bricks and stones, we cheer them on.

5BrokenCameras cameras5
Still from 5 Broken Cameras: Burnat’s mother pleads with an Israeli soldier to release her son Khaled after he was arrested. (Photo: Kino Lorber)

In the Q and A after the film, its producer and directors were asked about what we can do in New York—is boycott an effective tool?

It seemed like the last thing producer Richard Lorber wanted to hear; he repeated the question but left out the word boycott. Burnat said, “I think the people in the United States should see the film and understand more about the reality and the truth.” Israeli director Guy Davidi said that BDS worked in South Africa but now everything is different, for global material reasons—anyone who buys an HP printer is complicit in the technology of the wall. I found this answer diversionary and maybe reflective of the fact that Davidi got money from the Israeli government to make the movie. BDS isn’t a precise instrument; it is symbolic. And symbolic victories are having an effect; they are isolating a rogue state. Watching the film, I was for BDS more than ever.

Lorber is also chairman of the Film Forum, and he urged the packed house to go out there and push the movie.

“I feel very strongly about this film and we want to take it to the Oscars. Tell your friends. Get the butts in the seats.” He wants to show it in 20 or 30 cities.

Godspeed. The pleasure of hearing this from Lorber was the pleasure of seeing a privileged cultural operator in the US on the right side at last. I am guessing Lorber is Jewish (his office didn’t respond to an inquiry). And his stance on the issue restores a Jewish cultural position: liberal outsider siding with the oppressed, and engaged now on Israel/Palestine. It struck me that if Jews are allowed to maintain their traditional cultural leadership role, they will champion a film shot by a Palestinian. Maybe that is the deal. Well I will take it.

Let Jews be the facilitators. That’s just fine with me if this is what it takes to get the martyrdom of Bassem Abu Rahmah the attention he deserves. 

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About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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30 Responses

  1. annie
    annie on June 5, 2012, 4:17 pm

    so excited to see this movie. just got an email from a friend in response to this post. it’s in berkeley on the 22nd. ….i will soooooo be there! be there or be…..

  2. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870 on June 5, 2012, 4:57 pm

    RE: “Jewish Voice for Peace is promoting the film: ‘5 Broken Cameras … is getting rave reviews from activists and critics alike’.” ~ Weiss

    NETFLIX: 5 Broken Cameras (2011) NR
    In this moving documentary, a Palestinian farmer chronicles his village’s nonviolent resistance to the presence of encroaching Israeli settlers and military. As camera after camera gets shot or otherwise destroyed, the farmer continues filming.
    Netflix availability: DVD availability date unknown
    TO SAVE TO YOUR NETFLIX QUEUE – http://movies.netflix.com/Movie/5_Broken_Cameras/70229917

    • LeaNder
      LeaNder on June 6, 2012, 7:46 am

      shit, US only. Can you provide me with a US IP and address? ;)

      • Sumud
        Sumud on June 6, 2012, 8:46 am

        Leander you can probably spoof a US IP address by using a free VPN service like Hotspot Shield. The bandwidth isn’t great though, maybe not enough for video.

        ‘5 Broken Cameras’ is doing the rounds of festivals so it might be on where you are some time soon…

  3. Kathleen
    Kathleen on June 5, 2012, 5:53 pm

    Phil, Annie, Adam sorry to distract but..Huff Po is reporting that Walker is ahead by a slim margin. Two more hours for Wisconsin voters to vote. Your phone call could be the one to convince a voter to go to the polls
    Folks the Tom Barrett campaign can use your help. The polls in Wisconsin do not close for 2 hours and 15 minutes. Let’s push. Let’s surge. Make some phone calls. The GOTV campaign makes it so easy. Just follow the directions.

    PUSH
    http://www.barrettforwisconsin.com/media/blog/2012-06-kris-and-i-voted-can-you-make-5-gotv-calls

  4. OlegR
    OlegR on June 5, 2012, 6:37 pm

    I am more interested in Alexandrovich’s the “Law in these parts”
    but this should be the next on my list.

    / and maybe reflective of the fact that Davidi got money from the Israeli government to make the movie. /
    Wouldn’t be the first time. Israeli film makers have a long tradition
    of producing anti Israeli films funded by Israeli money.Somehow they don’t see it as hypocritical .

    • justicewillprevail
      justicewillprevail on June 5, 2012, 7:44 pm

      That would be because it isn’t hypocritical, except in your dull, unimaginative, narrow-minded world.

      • OlegR
        OlegR on June 6, 2012, 4:58 am

        Your point is?
        I don’t approve of administrative detention in general
        and think that if it is used it should be only in a very limited number
        of cases and it should be approved by an expanded body of judges
        presented with good evidence.That’s about it.

    • Sumud
      Sumud on June 5, 2012, 10:50 pm

      Israeli film makers have a long tradition of producing anti Israeli films funded by Israeli money.Somehow they don’t see it as hypocritical .

      Don’t you mean funded by Israeli *taxpayers* money?

      Do you think it is appropriate for governments to be interfering with the content of creative works? Was that a spectacular success in USSR or what?

      If Israel really is a democracy then people should be free to express discontent and critics their governments for war crimes etc.

      • OlegR
        OlegR on June 6, 2012, 5:19 am

        /Don’t you mean funded by Israeli *taxpayers* money?/
        Yes i do just as you don’t approve of you government monetary
        discretion i have the same right with mine.

        /Do you think it is appropriate for governments to be interfering with the content of creative works? Was that a spectacular success in USSR or what?/
        No and no.
        It’s a sensitive issue regarding the freedom of speech which is obviously
        very important in any healthy society.
        I do expect from artists that benefit from government funds to exercise
        a certain amount of integrity or just stay away clear from it to avoid the dilemma. For example if a filmmaker supports
        BDS i don’t think he should take money from the state to make a film
        calling for the BDS on that state , that would be hypocritical in my view.
        Criticism is always welcome as long as it does not cross the line
        and becomes biased bashing (that btw is true regardless of funds ).This is obviously subjective therefore you can’t make clear criteria where is that line and when it is crossed but usually is like with porn, you know it when you see it.

        In general i think artists should try and avoid government funds which
        on one hand might lead to self censorship and on the other to
        a (justified/or not) accusations of hypocrisy.

      • Sumud
        Sumud on June 6, 2012, 8:51 am

        I do expect from artists that benefit from government funds to exercise a certain amount of integrity…

        I agree with you, but we may part ways on what constitutes integrity. For example some of these Israelis may look at Israel’s behaviour and decide that behaviour is illegal and immoral, and to maintain their own personal integrity they must speak out. I think it is OK for artists and others to create works supporting BDS – it is non-violent protest after all. Using state funding to buy weapons for Palestinian militants is something I would think is crossing the line.

        Someone else with an attitude ‘my country right or wrong’ will think that acting with integrity is to not criticise their country and not to endorse BDS even if they wanted to see change.

        I fall into the first camp.

        And I agree, state funding is best avoided altogether.

      • OlegR
        OlegR on June 6, 2012, 9:42 am

        /I agree with you, but we may part ways on what constitutes integrity. For example some of these Israelis may look at Israel’s behaviour and decide that behaviour is illegal and immoral, and to maintain their own personal integrity they must speak out./
        Like i said it’s subjective and this argument was raised a lot against such criticism.The government in a democratic society represents the majority of the people, their view of things so to speak , therefore if an artist wants to raise hard questions that go against the general view he should ask himself is he doing the moral thing when he uses public funds for such a goal.The government should refrain from interfering as long as
        what he is doing is legal even if it pisses the people off sometimes.

        This sort of thing should be dealt in the civil society.
        “Jenin Jenin” and Mohammed Bakri is a good example.
        (I don’t think that he used Israeli funding for the movie)
        the government afaik did not interfere with it
        but he did got and still gets a lot of flak from the civil society
        in the form of a number of Defamation law suits and recently demonstrations and boycott calls for shows with his participation.All of which falls within the same freedom of speech that he himself exercised when he made the movie.

        / I think it is OK for artists and others to create works supporting BDS – it is non-violent protest after all. /
        It is ok to do so, sure they have the right to speak their mind but if they use government funds for that then in my opinion they act in a hypocritical
        manner though they do it legally.As a Hebrew phrase says “It’s kosher but still stinks”.

        /Using state funding to buy weapons for Palestinian militants is something I would think is crossing the line./
        Using any kind of funding for that purpose would be breaking the law so
        we are not talking about it.

    • mig
      mig on June 6, 2012, 12:10 am

      They usually call that, in case you have never heard about it, freedom of speech. But this is area which you Oleg should know better from soviet system. Critics locked to mental institutions, jail or work camps. Siberia calling ! Yes, ill bet you miss those days.

    • Hostage
      Hostage on June 6, 2012, 12:55 am

      Wouldn’t be the first time. Israeli film makers have a long tradition
      of producing anti Israeli films funded by Israeli money.Somehow they don’t see it as hypocritical.

      As if skimming their taxes to support an illegal land grab and bloody murder in the neighboring territory is a noble or patriotic undertaking.

  5. Daniel Rich
    Daniel Rich on June 5, 2012, 9:30 pm

    Q: Israeli director Guy Davidi said that BDS worked in South Africa but now everything is different, for global material reasons—anyone who buys an HP printer is complicit in the technology of the wall, so why single out Israel?

    R: Anyone who bought paint before 1940 was complicit in the technology developed at IG FArben [you know, the company that drew its workforce from the Auschwitz camps], so why single out the Nazis?

    Kudos to the Palestinian [dead and living] heroes. Big thumbs down to Guy Davidi.

  6. Sumud
    Sumud on June 5, 2012, 10:44 pm

    Bassem Abu Rahmah can be seen in this short film made by his friends a year after he was killed by the IDF:

    http://www.maxajl.com/in-memoriam-bassem-abu-rahma/

    Really heartbreaking to think of a life like this extinguished.

  7. Avi_G.
    Avi_G. on June 6, 2012, 12:16 am

    I urge everyone to go and see this film.

    I went to see 5 Broken Cameras and was both inspired and upset.

    I was inspired by the resilience of the Palestinian people and more specifically of the people of Bil’in in the face of such unrelenting oppression and barbarism (Both by the soldiers and the settlers).

    And I was upset when innocent, unarmed, life-loving and otherwise jubilant people standing behind a barbed wire fence were murdered by Israeli soldiers on the other side of that barbed wired fence.

    Through this film, Emad relates the moving reality of his daily life, a reality filled with hope, inspiration, but also with agony and resilience.

  8. Avi_G.
    Avi_G. on June 6, 2012, 12:20 am

    Israeli director Guy Davidi said that BDS worked in South Africa but now everything is different, for global material reasons—anyone who buys an HP printer is complicit in the technology of the wall, so why single out Israel? I found this answer diversionary and maybe reflective of the fact that Davidi got money from the Israeli government to make the movie.

    I agree. The point of BDS is that it is a tool to apply pressure on Israel.

    And it is working. The fact of the matter is that the Israeli Knesset has outlawed BDS advocacy in Israel.

    To ignore that is to have one’s head in the sand which is what Guy did, despite having prefaced his opposition to BDS with, “And I’m not just saying that because I’m Israeli.”

    • annie
      annie on June 6, 2012, 1:48 am

      anyone who buys an HP printer is complicit in the technology of the wall, so why single out Israel?

      oh but we don’t. we will also single out HP. that is how the boycott works.

  9. Taxi
    Taxi on June 6, 2012, 1:24 am

    Congratz 5 Broken Cameras! Wooohoooooheeeehaaaawww!

  10. Shmuel
    Shmuel on June 6, 2012, 2:33 am

    Israeli director Guy Davidi said that BDS worked in South Africa but now everything is different, for global material reasons—anyone who buys an HP printer is complicit in the technology of the wall, so why single out Israel?

    What is Davidi actually saying (beyond real or feigned ignorance of how BDS works)? That someone who buys an HP printer is just as responsible for Israeli policies of apartheid and ethnic cleansing as the Israeli state that devises and carries out those policies? The “singling out Israel” argument reaches new heights of preposterousness.

  11. Henry Norr
    Henry Norr on June 6, 2012, 3:05 am

    from the Five Broken Cameras page at the website of the distributor, Kino Lorber:

    Playdates

    California
    Landmark Shattuck Cinemas Berkeley CA June 22nd – 28th
    Landmark Lumiere Theatre San Francisco CA June 22nd – 28th
    Camera Cinemas San Jose CA June 22nd – 28th

    Florida
    Lake Worth Playhouse Lake Worth FL June 22nd – 28th

    Louisiana
    Zeitgeist Arts Center New Orleans LA June 29th – July 5th

    Massachusetts
    Landmark Kendall Square Cinema Boston MA June 22nd – 28th

    New Mexico
    Center For Contemporary Arts Santa Fe NM June 22nd – 28th
    Guild Cinema Albuquerque NM July 16th – 19th

    New York
    Film Forum New York NY May 30th – June 12th
    Time & Space Limited Hudson NY July 5th-8th, 12th-14th

    Washington DC
    Landmark E Street Cinema Washington DC July 13th – 19th

    • irishmoses
      irishmoses on June 6, 2012, 8:04 am

      I don’t get this. Why is there no showing of this important movie anywhere south of San Jose? Did Southern California fall into the ocean? 60 percent of California’s population resides in Southern California; 22 million people. Hollywood, the film industry and the freaking Oscars are located in Southern California. Two thirds of California’s Jewish population live in Southern California. You would think the promoters of this film would want to show it in an area which has the greatest potential influence on whether it gets considered for the Oscars.

      What am I missing here?

      • Henry Norr
        Henry Norr on June 6, 2012, 9:55 am

        >You would think the promoters of this film would want to show it in an area which has the greatest potential influence on whether it gets considered for the Oscars.

        I’m sure they do want to show it in Southern California. Where a film is shown is a function not of where the distributor would like to show it, but of where theater bookers agree to do so.

        >Two thirds of California’s Jewish population live in Southern California.

        Maybe that’s what you’re missing – theater owners may be scared to show it.

        But it’s just the beginning, and I’m sure they’ll line up additional showings. In fact, I bet it will get at least some SoCal showings. The New York Times review, lame as it was, will probably help clear the way. And a lot will depend on the turnout at the initial showings.

      • irishmoses
        irishmoses on June 6, 2012, 11:53 am

        Thanks for the link Henry.

        Los Angeles has become more tolerant of voices critical of Israel’s apartheid-like treatment of the Palestinians. I attended a speech by Ilan Pappe at UCLA a few months back that packed an auditorium most of whom were in agreement with his position. Even the Los Angeles Times now encourages contrary views on Israeli policy, both in its own editorials and in its op-ed section. Just this morning the Times printed an op-ed by Miko Peled, “Six Days in Israel, 45 Years ago: My Israeli general father knew the 1967 war was an opportunity for peace” showing that Israel’s own government records demonstrate that it chose to start the 1967 war to acquire more territory and that it had no fear whatsoever of Egypt’s military.

        http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-peled-israel-palestine–six-day-war-20120606,0,3821348.story

        Peled just published a new book, The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.

  12. irishmoses
    irishmoses on June 6, 2012, 11:54 am

    Thanks for the link Henry.

    Los Angeles has become more tolerant of voices critical of Israel’s apartheid-like treatment of the Palestinians. I attended a speech by Ilan Pappe at UCLA a few months back that packed an auditorium most of whom were in agreement with his position. Even the Los Angeles Times now encourages contrary views on Israeli policy, both in its own editorials and in its op-ed section. Just this morning the Times printed an op-ed by Miko Peled, “Six Days in Israel, 45 Years ago: My Israeli general father knew the 1967 war was an opportunity for peace” showing that Israel’s own government records demonstrate that it chose to start the 1967 war to acquire more territory and that it had no fear whatsoever of Egypt’s military.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-peled-israel-palestine–six-day-war-20120606,0,3821348.story

    Peled just published a new book, The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.

  13. irishmoses
    irishmoses on June 6, 2012, 12:19 pm

    The Ilan Pappe speech at UCLA (“The False Paradigm of Parity and Partition”) that I referred to above (sorry about the double posting) can be found at the link below. It is well worth listening to as he shows that Israel was making detailed preparations for the occupation of the West Bank two years before the war and accelerated those preparations in the months just preceding the war. This included the establishment of military law, division into districts each with a chief administrator who had unfettered power. Before the 1967 war had even started, Israel had appointed all the officials who were to administer the West Bank.

    http://www.international.ucla.edu/cnes/podcasts/article.asp?parentid=124509

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