5 Broken Cameras
Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi, The Netherlands / France / Israel / Palestine

5 Broken Cameras. Synopsis

Palestinian farm laborer Emad has five video cameras, and each of them tells a different part of the story of his village’s resistance to Israeli oppression. Emad lives in Bil’in, just west of the city of Ramallah in the West Bank. Using the first camera, he recorded how the bulldozers came to rip the olive trees out of the ground in 2005. Here, a wall was built directly through his fellow villagers’ land to separate the advancing Jewish settlements from the Palestinians. In the first days of resistance to the Jewish colonists and the ever-present Israeli soldiers, Emad’s son Gibreel was born. Scenes shift from the infant growing into a precocious preschooler to the many peaceful acts of protest, and the steady progress of the construction of the dividing wall. Sympathizers from all over the world, including from Israel, provide help as resistance develops, but when the situation intensifies, people are arrested and villagers are killed. Emad keeps on filming despite pleas from his wife, who fears reprisals. It makes for an intensely powerful personal document about one village’s struggle against violence and oppression.

From Unyielding Cameraman, an Acclaimed Film

BILIN, West Bank — Emad Burnat was born to the land and, like generations of his family in this hilltop West Bank village, he has eked out a modest living from its rocky soil. But six years ago, at the birth of a son, he was given a video camera and turned unexpectedly into the village chronicler.

There was a great deal to record. Israel was building a separation barrier on village land that included some of his family’s own. The rationale behind it was to stop suicide bombers, but the move confiscated most of the village’s arable land and allowed for the expansion of an enormous Israeli settlement.

Bulldozers uprooted centuries-old olive trees while settlers drove up with furniture and mobile homes. Villagers stood in the way; soldiers arrested them. Mr. Burnat was there, day in, day out, filming with his new camera.