Emad Burnat bought a camera to record the birth of his youngest son. Living in Bil'in, a Palestinian village in the West Bank, he soon realised that his camera wouldn't just record family life and he immediately starting making documentary films of the crises around him.
Illegal Israeli settlements were encroaching on Bil'in and a huge barbed wire barrier was erected to keep the villagers from gaining access to their own olive trees on their own land. The villagers took a non-violent approach in their demonstrations against the Israeli forces, but had to face hugely violent responses from the Israeli military. The soldiers shot many civilians (including children), arrested many more (again including children) and, on at least one occasion, dressed up as Palestinians to infiltrate protesters and cause chaos.
The villagers were not cowed though and continued to demonstrate and win small victories such as negotiating limited access to their land to replant the trees that have been burned by settlers and the military. The trees, an integral part of the landscape and ecology of the area, are vital as a source of food and oil and as a symbol of hope.
This documentary was filmed on a series of five different cameras, each of which was damaged beyond repair. On at least one occasion, the camera probably saved Emad's life by catching the bullet that otherwise would probably have killed him, though he was very seriously injured and underwent a long period of medical treatment. This never stopped his determination to film.
The result is a brilliant, heart-breaking and shocking insight into life in the occupied West Bank, made all the more poignant by seeing Emad's young family growing up against the background of so much violence.
5 Broken Cameras is on at the Filmhouse Cinema in Edinburgh until Tuesday 6 November.
and my haiku today on Daily Haiku also features trees
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