[Marxism] ’5 Broken Cameras’ is reminiscent of ‘The Battle of Algiers’ (but the ‘NYT’ can’t tell you that)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jun 1 07:28:40 MDT 2012


’5 Broken Cameras’ is reminiscent of ‘The Battle of Algiers’ (but 
the ‘NYT’ can’t tell you that)
by Abdeen Jabara on May 31, 2012

I spent this morning calling friends to get their friends and 
their friends' friends to go down and see the film, Five Broken 
Cameras. I saw it last night, and I was blown away.

Anybody’s who interested in peace, justice in Palestine/Israel, 
has to see this movie. It’s an incredible documentary about the 
steadfastness of the villagers in Bil'in and of the steadfastness 
of this one fellow, Emad Burnat, who wanted to report what was 
happening to his village and the taking of the land. And it’s a 
testament to the  the Israelis who are supporting the people of 
Bil'in, that they got the wherewithal to make a world-class 
showing, of the standard of the Battle of Algiers, although this 
is a documentary, and Battle of Algiers was a staged recreation.

The film interweaves this fellow Burnat's life and his family’s 
life and the story of his youngest child Gibreel over the five 
years of these demonstrations, what happens with this child-- the 
filming, the raids on the village, the Israelis' arrests of young 
boys. And all of this is interwoven into a story that is immensely 

I went to see the 6:30 show and Carl Schieren [of JVP] was there 
and he told me that one of the directors of the film would be at 
the following showing of the film, so we went and had dinner and 
came back. And Guy Davidi the Israeli director stood for a while 
and answered some questions. He said they wanted to show this in 
America even more than in Israel, because the US is so critical 
for what happens there. He said that when he came to make this 
film, he was dubious, because other films had been made about 
Budrus and Bil'in and other villages trying to stop confiscation 
of their lands. He thought, maybe I could find an angle that would 
be more interesting-- and the angle was the story of co-director 
Burnat, this man who was doing the filming and having his cameras 
destroyed by the Israeli military.

I saw that the other director, Emad Burnat, will be coming to the 
Film Forum to answer questions on Sunday and Tuesday and I urge 
you to go.

When I was calling around today, one friend asked Does the film 
humanize Arabs? Absolutely. Absolutely. It shows a village's 
commitment to a peaceful struggle and their family life. It shows 
their love for their children and their elderly and their grief at 
the dying of people in the demonstrations. All the things that 
make a human being human.

Also, it dispels all the images that people use to promote 
Islamophobia. The wife of the main protagonist, she covers her 
hair-- and you see some Muslim funerals with the people carrying 
people martyred in demonstrations, and recitations of the Koran in 
the background-- but these things look perfectly normal. These 
look like what they are: the perfectly normal everyday life of a 

Another friend asked, Why did I go to the film in the first place? 
Well yesterday morning I saw the New York Times review of Five 
Broken Cameras in the arts section. And the essence of the review 
by A.O. Scott was, This is an intractable problem, there are no 
rights or wrongs here, it’s a tragedy. My first inclination was 
not to go see the movie on the basis of that review.

Then I said, I'm going to go see it because the Times is so often 
wrong. Well I went to see it for myself, and I was just dumbstruck 
between the gap between what that review was and what that movie 
was about. When you see the film, you can see why they didn’t give 
it a good review, they don’t want to promote something as being 
sympathetic to the Palestinians

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