5 Broken Cameras (2012)

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An extraordinary work of both cinematic and political activism, 5 Broken Cameras is a deeply personal, first-hand account of non-violent resistance in Bil'in, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. Shot almost entirely by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, the footage was later given to Israeli co-director Guy Davidi to edit. Structured around the violent destruction of each one of Burnat's cameras, the filmmakers' collaboration follows one family's evolution over five years of village turmoil. Burnat watches from behind the lens as olive trees are bulldozed, protests intensify, and lives are lost. "I feel like the camera protects me," he says, "but it's an illusion." -- (C) Kino Lorber
Rating:
NR
Genre:
Art House & International , Documentary , Drama , Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 limited
On DVD:
Runtime:
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Critic Reviews for 5 Broken Cameras

All Critics (44) | Top Critics (16)

This is how the conflict looks from the other side of the barrier.

Full Review… | February 21, 2013
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

A tough watch that'll leave you despairing of peace anytime soon.

Full Review… | October 16, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

As raw as the material of "5 Broken Cameras" can be, it is also lyrical and elegiac.

Full Review… | September 13, 2012
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

[A] bit jagged, inevitably incomplete, and in no way news-breaking: it is simply moving.

Full Review… | August 8, 2012
The New Republic
Top Critic

Takes the rough material of one man's life and transforms it into a story that is universal and urgent, offering firsthand witness to events that are too often portrayed as distant and impossible to understand.

Full Review… | July 12, 2012
Washington Post
Top Critic

Both a moving first-person essay and an artful exercise in political advocacy, 5 Broken Cameras is about the experience of West Bank protests from the inside.

Full Review… | June 21, 2012
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for 5 Broken Cameras

In the heartbreaking and deeply moving documentary, "5 Broken Cameras," Emad Burnat, like any proud father, uses a video camera to record every single waking moment of his fourth son Gilbreel in order to embarrass him later when he is an adult. As the owner of one of the only ones in his village, he is also the unofficial chronicler of events such as the circus. And since this is the occupied West Bank we are talking about, that extends to the building of the security wall which threatens to divide the village lands to make way for illegal Israeli settlements. The villagers respond with protests that are mostly peaceful and a little ingenious in places, and are joined by Israeli and other international activists. Even though it is a little repetitive(perhaps by design), especially on Emad reminding us about the importance of the land, as he and other villagers depend on harvesting olives for their livelihood, "5 Broken Cameras" also shows in harrowing detail what it is like to live in the occupied territories, as Emad captures some stunning footage while putting himself and his cameras at risk, hence the title, not only for injury, but also jail time. In fact, one of his cameras ends up taking a bullet for him, but that is not what sends him to the hospital(an Israeli one) for an extended stay.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

½

Much of the footage strongly begs for historical and legal context that is never given, weakening the credibility of the film's narrative. But there is no denying the striking, unjust scenes of Israeli violence against unarmed protestors.

Matthew Slaven
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

½

5 Broken Cameras is a documentary on a Palestinian farmer's chronicling his nonviolent resistance to the actions of the Israeli army. I'll keep this short since documentaries are not my strong suit when it comes to reviewing. The documentary is a very personal experience through the perspective of farmer and family man Emad. We get a good idea of how it feels like to be protesting in Bil'in and Emad life struggles. The footage is rough showing acts violence (some deaths occur on camera) against nonviolent protester (at least according to the narrator). The footage presented gives an understanding the consequences of the occupation, the suffering of the other side, the dangers of the status-quo and of the lack of progress in the peace process. It suffers from not having any kind of historical overview and spend too little on discussing politics. So for anyone who's not familiar with this event will receive minor information. Also some summarization on "The Nakba" (which I've included in the next paragraph) would have been welcome since both are similar in how the people are struggling. At it best we feel like we're right alongside protesting and it worst it feels like watching someone bad vacation videos. 5 Broken Cameras is a moving documentary from the point of view those suffering though not an informative one to make everything clear for you. Historical Note: The Nakba (or 1948 Palestinian Exodus in the US) was a time when almost 80% (or 50% according to Rashid Khalidi) of Palestine was taken over, and the population in many cities and villages expelled and made into refugees. Hundreds of villages were ethnically cleansed, and several of them today have Israeli Jews living in the old houses owned by Palestinians (not having paid for them of course). These events of the past are similar to what occur in "Five Broken Cameras". This historical note hopefully provides context to why this protest holds such importance for the people of Palestine or informs those not familiar with "The Nakba".

Caesar Mendez
Caesar Mendez

Super Reviewer

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