Emad's son Gibreel looks over at the Israeli settlements as seen in 5 BROKEN CAMERAS, a film by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi. Picture courtesy Kino Lorber. All rights reserved.
* Most external filmography links go to The Internet Movie Database.Home/Social Media Links
5 Broken Cameras (2011/2012)
Opened: 05/30/2012 Limited
|Film Forum/NYC||05/30/2012 - 06/26/2012||28 days|
|Kendall Square...||06/22/2012 - 06/28/2012||7 days|
|Monica 4-Plex||09/14/2012 - 09/20/2012||7 days|
|Quad Cinema/NYC||01/25/2013 - 03/07/2013||42 days|
|Claremont 5||02/15/2013 - 02/21/2013||7 days|
Trailer: Click for trailer
Genre: Documentary (Hebrew and Arabic w/English subtitles)
An extraordinary work of both cinematic and political activism, 5 BROKEN CAMERAS is a deeply personal, firsthand 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."
Sundance Film Festival - World Documentary Directing Award
IDFA - Special Jury Mention & Audience Award
Cinema du Reel - Prix Louis-Marcorelles
Tempo Film Festival (Stockholm) - The Stephan Jarl Documentary Award
One World Human Rights Film Festival (Prague) - The Best Director Award
Movies That Matter (The Hague) - The Golden Butterfly Award: A Matter of Act Competition & The Students' Choice Award
Official International Film Festival Selection
New Directors / New Films (New York)
Hot Docs Film Festival (Canada)
Open City London Documentary Festival
Human Rights Watch Film Festival London -- Special Festival Benefit
Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival
Planete Doc Film Festival (Poland)
It's All True - Brazil
Film Middle East Now Festival (Florence)
Open Doek Film Festival (Belgium)
Doc Point - Helsinki
Ambulante Film Festival (Mexico)
FilmFest DC (Washington DC)
Boulder Film Festival
DOXA Documentary Film Festival (Canada)
Dallas International Film Festival
When we started this project, we knew we would be criticized for working together. Emad would be asked why he chose to make the film with an Israeli, and Guy would be asked why he chose to make the film with a Palestinian. Still, the actual differences between us were something we could not avoid: we have different cultural backgrounds and different privileges, and we had to learn to use them in a constructive way. There are also different expectations for us as a result of our identities.
When we finally decided to make the film, we decided it had to be as intimate and personal as possible. That was the only way to tell the story in a new and emotional way. For Emad, this was not an obvious or simple decision. Exposure can be flattering, but it can also be risky. On the other hand, the film had be focused on Emad's narrative, with Guy taking the role of storyteller.
We hope that people come to see the film with open minds and without foregone conclusions. When watching a film that deals with such a painful controversy, we know that people tend to shut down. Most of us divide the world into right and wrong, good and bad, Palestinian and Israeli. We immediately take a side that corresponds to our identity, life experience, or ideology, even though these loyalties prevent us from fully experiencing the world. Reality is wonderfully complex, and we become frustrated when people fight to look at it with only one or two filters.
5 Broken Cameras was made to inspire, and not just to be interpreted as part of the political discourse -- although it is, of course, an important part of it. We made the film with sincere initiative, trying to challenge our own assumptions and avoid cliche. In the end, we hope everyone will come away with open hearts.
-- Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
About the Filmmakers
Emad Burnat is a Palestinian freelance cameraman and photographer. His experience includes filming for TV channels, such as Al-Jazeera, Israeli channels 1, 2 and 10, and the Palestinian Television. He worked constantly with Reuters news agency, and filmed footage for several documentaries, such as "Bil'in, My Love," "Palestine Kids," "Open Close," and "Interrupted Streams."
Guy Davidi, born in Jaffa, is a documentary filmmaker and film Professor (he's been directing, editing, and shooting films since he was 16). As a cameraman, he shot the films "Hamza" and "Journal D'une Orange" for France 3. Davidi also directed many short documentaries, such as "In Working Progress," "Keywords," and "Women Defying Barriers," which were presented in film festivals and venues worldwide. In 2010, Guy Davidi's first feature film, "Interrupted Streams," premiered in the Jerusalem International Film Festival.
About the Film
When his fourth son Gibreel was born in 2005, Emad, a Palestinian farmer, got his first camera and started filming his son and family. At the same time, Emad's neighbors in Bil'in (west of Ramallah and a few miles from the international Green line), discovered that the separation barrier route would pass in the middle of their land and as thatr, as a result, they would lose more than 50% of the village's cultivated land.
Moreover, the Modi'in Ilit settlement was planning to expand onto these lands, and the construction of a new building would start rapidly. At that moment, the villagers decided to resist the construction of the wall by peacefully marching every Friday, after their prayer. Israeli and international activists joined them in support.
Emad started to follow the resistance and film the demonstrations with his new camera, but even though the marches were peaceful, soldiers reacted by shooting rubber-coated bullets, using tear gas and resorting to physical violence. In the meantime, demonstrators came up with new and creative ways to draw the attention of Israeli and international media, while also using direct and non-violent actions, like demonstrators tying themselves to a fence.
Two of Emad's friends were always on the frontline: Adeeb is a tough-looking guy, and he was clearly angry for losing his land behind the fence. So his anger came up in almost every demonstration in front of the soldiers. Phil is a very different guy; he always hangs around the village, many times with children around him. They like him because they find in him a sense of hope that is rare to find in adults.
When the army began arresting people, Emad's brother Riyad was the first to be taken by Israeli soldiers -- disguised as Palestinians. And at that very moment, Emad's first camera was shot and broken by soldiers.
As the separation wall was being built and the villagers kept resisitng its construction, Emad got another camera from his Israeli friend Yisrael. He went on to film his son Gibreel growing older while also capturing more footage with his wife, the Brazilian-Palestinian Soraya.
During the demonstrations, a great bond developed between Emad, Adeeb and Phil. For instance, when the soldiers shot Adeeb in his leg, Phil got so angry (and shouted at them so loudly) that he ended up being arrested by the Israeli police.
Days laters, the Palestinian villagers decided to put trailers on the land, as the settlers were doing, to demarcate their territory. Emad and his friends did this several times, but the army removed the trailers again and again. So they built a concrete outpost - which was destroyed by the soldiers. After rebuilding the concrete once again, the place stayed up, and the villagers began using it for their meetings -- but even that didn't prevent the settlements from continuing. Daba, Phil's brother, then decided to climb over a crane to try to stop the work. That lead to his arrest, and on that exact day, Emad's second camera was broken.
Gibreel is now three years old, and Emad takes his kid to see the demonstrations by himself -- with a third camera on his shoulders. On that day, Gibreel saw his neighbors being arrested, including one of Emad's brothers -- as the soldiers were entering more and more into the village and began taking people from their houses.
After that, soldiers entered into the village and arrested children from their homes - for throwing rocks in the demonstrations. In the morning, the kids went to demonstrate together. They cried: "We want to sleep". But the violence continues and an Israeli activist was hurt by a bullet in the head. In his house, the kids speak about brochures the army distributed to warn people not to go and demonstrate. Soraya then had to explain to them that they had to continue resisting. And the soldiers continued to look for children to arrest.
One night, they came into Emad's house while he was filming. Emad was taken to the police, and then, kept in jail and house arrest. In a house far from Bil'in, Emad was locked alone, accused of throwing rocks but actually punished for filming. At the end, the army droped all charges, as they claimed lack of evidence. When he is out, Emad went directly to filming, and his third camera was again, shot at and hit. The bullet, still inside the camera, is a proof to life's fragility.
By 2008, habitants from other villages began to take note of how the villagers from Bil'in were protesting -- specially as the separation moved into their lands. In the neighboring village of Nil'in, the violence became very intense and there was a fear that these demonstrations would turn into a wide popular resistance -- a third Intifada.
So the army response was harsh, and a 11-year-old boy was shot by snipers in Bil'in (this event took place after the funeral of a 17 year-old who was also shot dead). In the middle of the chaos, Daba, Phil's brother was shot in the leg too.
With death all around, it became hard for the people to hold onto the non-violent ideas. But the Bil'in villagers found out that they won a court case, and the existing barrier was dismantled and put closer to the settlement buildings. This was a small victory for some villagers, and they would get back parts of their lands.
When Emad goes to the other side of the barrier to work the land, he discovered remains of trees burnt by the settlers. Hence, another retaliation. On his way back to the village, his truck crashed directly into the separation wall, and the images of this accident are the last to be filmed by his fourth camera.
Emad was brought into an Israeli hospital where he stays in a coma for 20 days. Entire parts of his body are wounded, and he was on the verge of dying. When he wakes up, it's late 2008, and Israel had started its attack on the Gaza strip. His recovery in the Tel Aviv hospital was a drop in the sea of violence.
When Emad got back to his home, there was no big welcome, as people were in grief over what was happening in Gaza. At the same time, Bil'in's struggle begins appear on the meia, and politicians from all over the world and in Palestine come to visit to show their support.
Phil, who remained optimistic through the entire process, begins to prepare for even more violent demonstration. And eventually, in one of the demonstrations, Phil gets a gas grenade in his chest and dies instantly. At night, Daba hangs the posters of his dead brother. The village is in shock. Gibreel and the rest of Emad's children kiss the posters with Phil's image. It is only they who still can't understand what has happened.
Phil's funeral is followed by an angry demonstration. And even Emad gets a letter saying that he too would be arrested. When he tells it so Soraya, she becomes agitated and demands Emad to stop going to the demonstrations - and to stop filming everything. But Emad goes again, and in the next demonstration, his fifth camera was shot and destroyed.
Epilogue - The Sixth Camera
A year passed and Adeeb is still in jail. In 2010, Israel starts to remove the old barrier and to put a new concrete wall closer to the settlement. There are no big celebrations. Gibreel's 5th birthday comes and he turns from a baby to a young boy. It's a sad and poignant moment. For his last treatment in Tel Aviv, Emad takes Gibreel and Taki-yadin to see the sea in Tel Aviv for their first time.
When the demonstrations against the wall started in 2005, Emad Burnat got his first video camera and started filming what was happening in the village. He also filmed his personal life and family, not thinking that this footage would become part of a feature film.
For the next years, Emad's purpose wasn't to make a film. Instead, filming was a way to participate in public demonstration while also protecting others in and outside of court (his footage was often used as evidence in trial). When Emad's footage was also picked up by international news agencies or posted online, it became a rare inside-look at one of the most remote and under-reported parts of the Middle East.
Other filmmakers made films around the resistance in Bil'in and many of them utilized Emad's footage, as he was the only cameraman of the village. Among other things, he was one of the few who filmed the soldiers and raids at night, after other cameramen left. These events were sometimes violent, and Emad was often in great danger for capturing these moments on camera.
In 2006, he was arrested and accused for throwing rocks. As a consequence, he spent weeks in jail and house arrest, and one of his camera was broken soon after that. It was both peace activists and donors who helped Emad get new cameras, so that he could continue filming and documenting what was happening.
Right from the start, Israeli and international peace activists helped and participated in the movement against the separation wall. Filmmaker Guy Davidi came to Bil'in in 2005 as a sympathizer and media activist in the Indymedia group. He knew Emad, as several other did, because he became an important figure in the Bil'in movement.
After making some short films in the village, Guy started making his first feature documentary on the politics of water. Interrupted Streams was shot in Bil'in from 2005 to 2008, and it was finished in 2010, when it premiered at the Jerusalem Film Festival.
During his work on Interrupted Streams, Guy stayed for several months in Bil'in, and it was during this time that he became closer to the villagers under occupation. At night, when soldiers would come to invade the village, he was the only Israeli around. So the villagers called Guy to bring his cameras and film what was about to happen; the cameras were again, being used to protect people from the violence. During these nights both Emad and Guy found themselves filming side by side.
Throughout this time Emad had the will to make his own film on the Bil'in's resistance. Often, he thought of making a personal film, but the events happening in the village always drew him to documenting what was going on with his people.
TEAMING UP TO MAKE THE FILM
In 2009, Emad approached Guy with the idea of making a film together. The idea was to focus on two characters: Adeeb and Phil. Phil was killed during the resistance and Emad wanted to create a film that would memorialize Phil. The film was developed through the Greenhouse Program, with Dutch filmmaker John Appel as a mentor. During the Greenhouse sessions, the script was written telling Emad's story from a personal perspective.
"When I first looked at the footage," said Guy Davidi, "I wasn't sure I wanted to make another film on the subject of the resistance. I knew Emad had a visual natural talent, but I wasn't sure how we could create a new story. Then I saw an image of an old man climbing on a military jeep and blocking it from moving. I asked Emad who that was and what he was doing. Emad explained that the man was his father, and that he was blocking the jeep from taking his brother to jail."
"Then it struck me," Davidi continued, "that from this moment, we had the makings of a new film that would tell the events the way Emad experienced them as a cameraman. We could use all of his home videos footage to include his perspective as a family man. "
"Making a personal film was a very difficult decision for me," said Emad Burnat. "This is not something people easily understand. It means exposing some difficult moments, like my arrest or my accident."
MAKING 5 BROKEN CAMERAS TOGETHER
In the next two years, Emad's footage (700+ hours of video) became the base for the creation of 5 Broken Cameras, along with supplementary footage from other cameramen (e.g. Phil's death, Dab'a getting shot in the leg, and new scenes that were shot by Emad).
The first editing sessions were held in a little room in Bil'in; it was an inspiring way to start the editing process. During the evenings, Emad and Guy had conversations that served as inspiration for the first draft of the film's narration. In the next year, the two worked to add new scenes to strengthen the special balance between the film's several elements, and Trio Joubran's beautiful music was soon added to the film.
From 2009, producer Serge Gordey and Christine Camdessus, of Alegria Productions, started a creative dialogue with Guy and Emad. In 2010, Serge and Christine got involved in the production strategy of the project and convinced France Televisons to join in.
In the summer of 2010, Guy and Emad attended the IDFA Academy with a first assembly of the film. Together with Italian-Dutch editor Menno Boerema, the film developed even more in the editing process. In 2011, the film was re-discussed and re-edited in Paris with the Alegria team and French editor Veronique Lagoarde-Segot. After weeks of cutting, the film blossomed to become what it is now.