5 Broken Cameras

5 Broken Cameras is a harrowing documentary and in retrospect not really ideal St Stephen’s Day viewing. Perhaps we should have watched Elf and tackled this one on another day. But then again, Herod murdering children is part of the Christmas story so facing up the violence of man to man at the time of the year is something we should do
5 Broken Cameras is:-

‘a deeply personal, first-hand account of life and non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village surrounded by Israeli settlements. Shot by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, Gibreel, the film was co-directed by Burnat and Guy Davidi, an Israeli filmmaker’

Much of the footage is  disturbing such as the moment when an Israeli soldier shoots a Palestinian in the leg or when soldiers come to arrest young lads in the village. It is uncomfortable viewing to see someone bleeding from a bullet wound and I’m not really sure it is something audiences around the world should be watching in cinemas. Is it OK to watch someone filmed dying in real life on Netflix while sitting in front of coal fire?

I have a reluctance to completely trust the viewpoint of one side which maybe comes from growing up in Northern Ireland. I know things can be manipulated to get points across. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with trying to get your side of the story across, but just that there might be another side to the story and reminding yourself of that might mean that you can’t really get into the film.

The real reason I can’t really trust the film is that I can’t quite believe how badly the Israeli armed forces, police and settlers come across in it. Why are they acting so violently towards these peaceful protestors? Why are they burning their olives trees? Why are they shooting the man in the leg? Surely people can’t acting so violently for no reason? They seem so callous and hard casually flinging grenades or whatever while walking toward protestors.

I appreciate that this film is a very personal film, so in many ways it is someone giving their point of view of the conflict. What perhaps makes it more than that is the video tape footage of things. To my eyes it does seem that the Israeli soldiers go far beyond any violence shown on the Palestinian side.  The camera never lies. Or maybe it does. I’m never quite sure with documentaries.


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