Review: 5 Broken Cameras


This surprising collaboration between a Palestinian and an Israeli, Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, shows unblinking footage as the cameraman’s brothers are arrested, friends are shot and doors are pounded on in the dead of night. When he’s asked to turn off his camera, Burnat keeps on shooting – hence the lovely title, “5 Broken Cameras.”

This is cutting edge documentary art shot like the award-winning Hetherington/Junger “Restrepo” piece on the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. There is no editorial, no safety, and no fancy technology – just raw, rugged clips telling the way it is.

This is also not a “he said vs. they said” story, but a simple record of the building of the Israeli wall beside Bil’ni, a Palestinian farming village, and the 5-year/5-camera documentation of an attempt at a nonviolent protest.

Maybe a little film-obsessive, our cameraman, Emand Burnat, takes his camera wherever he goes, ending up as the village filmmaker. A Have-Camera-Will-Film kind of guy, Burnat actually gets his first camera to record the life of his fourth-born son. However, he also records everything that happens in his town.

Because of this he not only ends up the village filmmaker for every possible occasion, he also ends up with contraband footage about the construction of the Israeli West Bank Barrier, aka Security Fence, Anti-terrorist Fence, Apartheid Wall or simply The Wall (the term used by the International Court of Justice).

Emad says, “I film to hold onto my memories.” But what is also true is that his films record a documented truth.

As the wall construction snakes through their territory and takes up more Bil’in land, the villagers protest. Many people like Burnat’s family find that the wall cuts through their property. His friend, dependent on the land for his only livelihood, hugs a tree and resolutely claims, “We were born on this land and we will die here. We’ll live on this land for the rest of our lives!”

“5 Broken Cameras” is part of the Voices in Action: Human Rights on Film series presented by Portland Art Museum’s Northwest Film Center in Oregon. On the front lines of social justice, the Film Center promotes films that can be tools for social education and action. The NW Film Center believes that “tackling wide-ranging, thought-provoking issues, activist filmmakers and individuals help deepen our awareness of injustice, the values of dignity and equality, and the price of commitment as they tell passionate stories of struggle and triumph.”

5 Broken Cameras is currently being shown at
The Northwest Film Center, Oct. 10 at 8:30 p.m.

Film Credits
Directors: Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
Writer: Guy Davidi
Camera: Emad Burnat
Official Website:
Country: Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel
Language: Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles
Release Date: Oct. 19, 2012 (UK)
Also known as: Cinq caméras brisées

. . .

Follow Bev Questad on Twitter at

And don’t forget to “Like” It’s Just Movies on Facebook at

1 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Review: Raising Resistance /  It's Just Movies 11 10 12