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5 Broken Cameras (15)


Anthony Quinn
Friday 19 October 2012 13:22 BST

It is sometimes difficult, as this chronicle of bitter endurance unfolds, to believe with one's own eyes the things that are being allowed to happen. Welcome to Bil'in, a village close to Ramallah in the West Bank, which found itself under attack when the Israeli government started building a security wall through the region and illegally appropriating the land.

Emad Burnat, a Palestinian farmer, had been given a camera on the birth of his youngest son Gibreel in 2005, but found himself recording the nonviolent protests and stand-offs of his own people against the Israeli army, whose tactics include dead-of-night incursions, house arrests, setting fire to olive groves and assault by tear-gas grenades. You stare in disbelief at soldiers firing on unarmed civilians, some of them children, and then at the horrifying aftermath of fatalities and funerals.

Burnat himself is narrowly spared when his camera gets in the way of a bullet; as the title suggests, he is now on his sixth. The record of this long struggle has been shaped in collaboration with Jewish Israeli film-maker Guy Davidi, and in the course of condensing so much video footage Burnat's friends and family are spliced into the picture to lend the narrative its links – which sometimes look far from seamless.

But the picture as a whole could scarcely be more real, or more wrenching, and the viewer, when not choking at the outrage of this land-theft, is mostly stunned with admiration for a film-maker and his people's courageous perseverance.

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