The Milwaukee Film Festival 2012 is a two-week event taking place in Landmark Oriental Theatre, Fox-Bay Cinema Grill, and Landmark Downer Theatre. The festival is broken down into ten categories, one of which being the Competition. The first film in the Competition category is “5 Broken Cameras” (2011).
Programming Manager Angela Catalano introduced the film and announced that it was the first screening ever at Fox-Bay Cinema Grill. “5 Broken Cameras” is part of the juried competition in the Milwaukee Film Festival. This competition consists of eight films from across the globe that are judged to win $2,500.
5 Broken Cameras is a documentary following Emad Burnat as he and other citizens of Bil’in resist as their land is being illegally bulldozed and occupied, destroying their olive trees and sustenance. Rather, it follows Burnat’s five cameras, which he utilizes to capture the resistance movement and raise awareness for the Israeli army brutality against peaceful demonstrators.
Burnat gives each camera a life of its own with a birth date, purpose, and expiration date. He shows how filming has many purposes for him throughout the protests, whether they be protection, hope, coping, or recruitment.
When I’m filming, I feel like the camera protects me, but it’ an illusion.
I film to heal.
I have to believe that capturing what’s happening will mean something.
There is a strong juxtaposition between family life and activism throughout the film. Jarring footage of a brutal police attack will cut to a scene of Burnat’s children, or childhood play scenes are accompanied by gruesome death details in a voice-over. The audience is made inescapably aware that children are very much a part of the community and feel the forces of the occupation just as the adults do. One of Burnat’s children in particular, Gibreel, is born in the start of the occupation and he grows up in a disturbingly rushed fashion as a result.
As previously stated, there is some disturbing footage in the documentary as peaceful protesters are attacked, injured, and sometimes killed by violent officers. There is a delicate balance between life and death throughout the film, and the delicate vitality of Bil’in is felt through the cinematography and editing as the land becomes more desolate and buildings are constructed.
There was a conversation in the cinema lobby following the screening, where many people stayed and discussed the film’s issues in small groups. This documentary presents a unique perspective from protestors as they feel the brutality of the unlawful takeover of their land. There is a great deal of focus on the importance of filming such events, and how filming can serve many functions.
“5 Broken Cameras” will be playing one more time during the Milwaukee Film Festival on Wednesday, October 3 at 2:30 p.m. at the Oriental Theatre. For more information on “5 Broken Cameras”, visit http://kinolorber.com/5brokencameras. For more information on the Milwaukee Film Festival 2012, visit http://mkefilm.org/.