‘5 Broken Cameras’ is a documentary straight from the horse’s mouth. Director Emad Burnat lives in the Palestinian village of Bil’in. After the birth of his son Gibreel, he begins to film the day to day events in his village. Throughout the film, Emad gets through 5 cameras, each ending up destroyed in conflicts with Israeli soldiers. Nevertheless he manages to document the many injustices that he encounters.
Amongst these, the biggest injustice of all is that as little Gibreel grows, so does his contempt and anger. At the tender age of five he has already learnt to hate. He witnesses things that no child should witness, in an environment that can only breed another generation of hatred.
It is important to note that this is not a film that provides a balanced argument, discussing both sides of the Israel-Palestine conflict in a measured tone… and nor does it claim to be. ‘5 Broken Cameras’ shows the daily life and struggles of a Palestinian man, through his own eyes and in his own words. It’s biased, it’s blunt, and it voices uncomplicated views.
Because of this, it makes me consider how easy it is for us to comment on the ‘wider issue’ and on the politics of the whole situation from our living rooms. After all, for Emad and little Gibreel, and all the other Palestinians, it really is that uncomplicated. For them, injustice and unfairness are not complex political debates, they are burnt olive trees, stolen land, and bullet wounds. Everyday.
It makes me wonder how different the film would be from an Israeli perspective. How different might the world be, as a whole, if in every situation of conflict we could see through the eyes of our opponent?
‘5 Broken Cameras’ humanises this age-old conflict, through the views of a grown man with a life’s-worth of experience, and a child who can do no more than take the world around him at face value. It provides a fresh, rare, emotionally engaging, insight into an issue generally only seen through distant news reports. It’s predominantly for this reason that I highly recommend it.