"5 Broken Cameras" screens to great success in the Spa

Posted by Sean van der Heijden

On Tuesday, April 23, the Oscar-nominated documentary "5 Broken Cameras" was shown in the Spa at 7:00 p.m. Hayat hosted the event in conjunction with Social Justice Month.. The documentary, directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, follows the struggles of one Palestinian village staging non-violent protests against the erection of a wall by the Israeli government. The wall, guarded daily by the Israeli army, runs right through village farmland and separates the people from the Israeli housing complexes built on the other side.

Although both an Israeli and a Palestinian direct this film, they tend to show the fighting from a Palestinian viewpoint, which I found intriguing. Scenes show the Israeli army shooting non-violent protestors of all nationalities, arresting children for no specific reason, and burning farmland in retaliation for the resistance movement occurring in the village. No side, though, is painted as inherently right or wrong, as Israelis and Palestinians alike resist the government's actions. When speaking of the Israeli army, Sofia Naqvi '14 commented, "I still don't think it's the enemy, I just think it's the other side." As difficult as it is to portray this objectivity in light of all of the destruction they are causing to his village, Burmat certainly tries to shed some light on both sides of the argument.

On a whole, this film opened my eyes to a new perspective of the Middle Eastern conflicts . There is just something so intimate about Burmat recording everything he sees with merely a small video camera. Burmat's recording becomes even more poignant throughout when, one by one, his cameras get destroyed while filming in the turbulent environment (hence the film's title). In response to the conflict, Naqvi said, "This movie just made it really personal." The style of the documentary and the hands-on filming process truly captures a personal approach to the conflict.

The film was followed by a lively discussion covering topics such as how the conflict is portrayed in the U.S. media and what impact it is having on the younger generations who are witnessing it firsthand. These issues are complex, but the documentary is so riveting in how it shows the struggle, that I would absolutely recommend it for anyone interested in the conflict overseas. As Naqvi pointed out, this documentary tends to deal with many issues regarding humanity rather than the countless political issues surrounding the topic, and for that reason it becomes all the more powerful. 

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