5 Broken Cameras Oscars 2013: The Nominee We Should All Be Talking About


Many amazing films will be honored at the upcoming Oscars, but 5 Broken Cameras is one noteworthy documentary that should receive high praise.

This extraordinary documentary provides a vivid picture of non-violent resistance in the city of Bilin, Palestine. It highlights the struggles many Palestinians are threatened with, as expanding illegal settlements intensify land annexation in Palestine. Palestinian farmer, Emad Burnat, recorded the majority of the documentary himself. In 2009, Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi joined the project and became the co-director of 5 Broken Cameras.

The story line is based on the destruction of Burnat’s five cameras, and each camera tells its own unique story. The focus of the film revolves around a separation barrier that Israel began building in Bilin in 2005. When villagers discovered that this separation fence would cut through, and as a result confiscate, their agricultural land, they began a strong non-violent resistance. The villagers organized weekly protests of the separation barrier. These protests attracted strong media attention and spurred the participation of many international organizations as well as Israeli peace activist organizations like Gush Shalom.

In September of 2007, the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered the Israeli government to dismantle part of the wall and rebuild it on a new route. Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch wrote, “We are not convinced that it is necessary for security-military reasons to retain the current route that passes on Bilin’s lands.”

It is precisely for this outcome that this documentary needs to be shared and acknowledged. It essentially encourages individuals to engage in non-violent means of resistance by highlighting the successes of such actions. The film should be praised for providing a great example of non-violent demonstrations as a means to achieve necessary change. The struggle faced by the residents of Bilin, and how they channeled these struggles toward non-violent protests as a means to address the occupation of their land, should be an example for all societies, not just in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict but in conflicts all around the world.

5 Broken Cameras  won the World Cinema Directing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and is nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 85th Academy Awards. Co-director, Emad Burnat arrived in Los Angeles with his family on Tuesday so that he can attend the Oscars. He and his family were held by immigration officials at LAX as they threatened to send him back to Palestine. Michael Moore intervened after he received a text message from Burnat.  Moore contacted Academy officials, who then contacted the organization's attorney and told Burnat to give the officials his number so that he could verify that Burnat was, in fact, an Oscar nominee. After a long ordeal, Burnat, his wife, and 8-year-old son were allowed to leave the airport.

The Oscar nomination of 5 Broken Cameras is an amazing achievement and a win would be even better. However, the award itself is not what should be emphasized. Instead, the film’s significant message of non-violent resistance should be the focus of this noteworthy documentary.