5 Broken Cameras captures raw footage of villagers protesting Israeli settlements.
5 BROKEN CAMERAS (Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi). 90 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (June 22) at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See Times. Rating: NNNN
Throw a rock in the West Bank and you have a good chance of hitting an Israeli soldier - or someone with a camera. There's no shortage of docs on the Palestine conflict, yet 5 Broken Cameras stands out because of its unique and deeply personal perspective.
The camera owner here is co-director Emad Burnat, a farmer from Bil'in whose land is being poached by Israeli settlers. Over the course of six years, he records and narrates the resistance put up by his fellow villagers, capturing the escalating violence with cameras that aren't as resilient as his people.
The footage is raw and unnerving, more so because Burnat is not a filmmaker by profession; he's a family man who bought his first camera when his fourth child, Gibreel, was born. He's making home movies that unfortunately become enmeshed in local politics.
Emad's also intentionally throwing his own family into the mix, marching into situations where tear gas and rubber bullets (and sometimes live ammunition) are expected with children in tow. As a toddler, Gibreel is pointing out rifle cartridges and contemplating murder because his father insists he must develop thick skin. You might argue that that's what Gibreel's teenage years are for.
This all makes for questionable parenting but also for a complex, compelling autobiographical film that we could argue over for as long as the Palestinian conflict continues.