Saturday, August 18, 2012

STF Critic Marcus O'Sullivan on 5 Broken Cameras

"Fill in the blanks yourself" - Marcus O'Sullivan, IFI Stranger Than Fiction Festival Critic reviews 5 Broken Cameras.

The Israel / Palestine conflict is so depressing and intractable that it’s hard to remain sensitized to it. It’s easier to accept this state of war as tragic but inevitable than to maintain outrage against an unchanging reality. 5 Broken Cameras succeeds in penetrating this cynicism with an unadorned and unflinching portrait of a community, a family, and the every-day world in which they live.

Five years ago, Emad Burnat began recording footage in his village of Bil’in in the West Bank, near the border of newly-created Israeli settlements. What began as an effort to film the growth of his new-born son soon expanded into an ongoing documentation of his community’s resistance against the construction of a wall through their land. There is violence here. Men are shot, people are tear-gassed, children are arrested under cover of darkness. Yet, nothing is sensationalized. These are merely natural occurrences in Burnat’s footage of normal village life, like picking olives, playing football, or protesting, day after day, year after year. 

This could easily have been a Big Issue film: the importance of land in cultural identity, the courage of non-violent resistance, the remarkable resilience and hope of the human spirit. But the film is more affecting for never addressing these concepts directly, never moralizing or preaching. It simply presents a microcosm of the front line through raw, pure footage, and allows you to fill in the blanks yourself. 

Marcus O'Sullivan
IFI Stranger Than Fiction Festival Critic

IFI Stranger Than Fiction, Dublin's Documentary Film Festival runs from 16th - 19th August  - for more information & tickets visit


  1. This film was joint second (along with Reluctant revolutionary) in the running for the Human Rights award at the Galway Film Fleadh 2012. The winner of the award was in the end, Give Up Tomorrow, but these three films had very close number of points awarded by the jury.

  2. I love the blog. Great post. It is very true, people must learn how to learn before they can learn. lol i know it sounds funny but its very true. . . IR PTZ Camera