Oscar-nominated documentary draws attention to non-violent resistance in Bil’in

An acclaimed documentary is drawing international attention to the small West Bank village of Bil’in ahead of the 2013 Oscars. 5 Broken Cameras, which chronicles the village’s struggle against the confiscation of their land by the Israeli Army and settlers, has been nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this month’s Academy Awards.

The film tells the story of a Emad Burnat, a Palestinian smallholder. When construction begins on the Israeli separation barrier in Bil’in in 2005, Emad buys a camera to film his village’s efforts to have it removed. As the residents’ weekly demonstrations are met with an ever more repressive response, Emad’s friends are personally affected by the army’s violence and Emad himself becomes more deeply involved in documenting their plight. The film takes its title from the 5 cameras destroyed by the army in 5 years of filming.

Since its release last year, the film has received widespread critical acclaim. It has been heralded as “eye-opening” (Time Out), “involving” (Guardian) and a “rigorous and moving work of art” (New York Times). “5 Broken Cameras provides a birdsong of perseverance in the face of irrational violence” (Slant Magazine). At last year’s Sundance festival Emad and co-director, Israeli, Guy Davidi were awarded the World Cinema Directing Award.

ISM London is delighted that the film has received such well-deserved recognition. ISM activists have been present in Bil’in since 2005, attending the weekly demonstrations and participating in non-violent actions as guests of the village’s Popular Committee. Many of the events depicted in the documentary — including the attacks suffered by the village’s outpost and the acts of civil disobedience against the expansion of a nearby settlement — were witnessed and reported by ISM activists. Those of us who have visited Bil’in have seen first-hand the brutal hardship imposed upon the villagers by the ongoing confiscation of their land. As we have returned, we have attempted to bring their stories home and retell them among our families, at our workplaces and in our communities.
5 Broken Cameras marks a vital contribution to this effort, carrying the story of Bil’in into parts of the media where Palestinian voices are rarely heard. It is a powerful and moving testament of the village’s struggle and will be an invaluable tool for promoting understanding of the Palestinian cause for years to come. ISM London warmly congratulates Emad, Guy and the residents of Bil’in on their success. You can watch the film for free and in full here.

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