Sundance Review: 5 Broken Cameras (N American Premier)

When I walked into 5 Broken Cameras I didn't know what to expect. Two co-directors (Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi) introduced the film, humbly thanking everyone for being there followed by the programmer who chose the film speaking with a wonder and awe, seemingly moved to tears by what we were about to watch. And now I know why.

A documentary by a Palestinian man whose town is slowly being encroached upon by Israeli barricades and construction follows the life of his youngest son through the lens of his videocamera, a device that provides him protection, distance and becomes the symbol for his freedoms as each one is systematically destroyed by conflict. It is not possible to describe the pain, beauty and utter confusion that this film evokes, seeing first hand this ineffable struggle that the press could never begin to humanize in these terms.  By exploring a personal aspect of a political & cultural rift that is so rooted in history it is nearly intangible 5 Broken Cameras becomes a poetic documentary, an archive of a time that is not easily defined by borders, names and facts, images to identify with and stand behind as a citizen of the world.

Footage from 5 Broken Cameras has been broadcast all over foreign press outlets, even (according to the directors in the Q&A) garnering tons of internet buzz for some of the gruesome accounts of Israeli soldier's violence against Palestinians so, why has it taken so long to reach an American audience? Why have we not seen this version of the story before? As the director noted after the film, he was afraid to bring his son to America, fearing our own political leanings could act against him- a truth evident in the fact that this film has taken so long to reach our shores. Apart from being a heart wrenching piece of emotional journalism, 5 Broken Cameras can also be seen as a warning, a warning that civil rights are at war even in our own country and it is everyone's responsibility to save those of others. Please see this film. (pictures of a barren, snowy Utah)

 

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