Five Broken Cameras
(Kino Lorber Films)
Film Forum: 30 May 2012
Two scenes introduce the doubled focus of Five Broken Cameras. First, the population of Bil’in’s collective efforts to resist a coming Israeli settlement, and second, the filmmaker Emad Burnat’s efforts to make sense of the resulting chaos. “I was born and lived all my life in Bil’in,” he says. He used to work alongside his father picking olives, but more and more, the land where the olive trees grow is being claimed by Israelis. As his future changes before him, Emad also thinks about his past, his father and his four sons. The youngest is born in 2005, just as Emad begins recording events in earnest). The “land of my childhood and his birth,” Emad observes, will never be the same.
The family’s experiences overlap with the community’s over the years, and the titular series of cameras—broken during protests—serves as a useful metaphor for the time passing and the hopes dashed, as well as continuing efforts to resist Israeli incursions. Opening on 18 January at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the Oscar-nominated documentary charts Gibreel’s first few years of life, as well as Bil’il’s increasingly organized protests, and, on occasion, his wife Soraya’s observations regarding his expanding activities. Together, these interrelated stories form a complicated, engaging whole.
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