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© 2013 Kebba Buckley Button.  World Rights Reserved.

5BrokenCamerasToday I saw an extraordinary film and met the brother of the filmmaker.  Today I saw first-hand footage of farmers whose land was seized by encroaching development, approved by a ruling government.  Today I saw Israeli soldiers arrest a youth, handcuff him, blindfold him, then shoot him in the leg, then take him to prison.  Today I got to sit with a Palestinian man and ask him questions about his and his family’s experience.

Today I saw a film on life in Bil’im, Palestine.  The film is called Five Broken Cameras. The film won the World Cinema Directing Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.  It also won the Special Broadcaster IDFA Audience Award and the Special Jury Award at the 2011 International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.  Now it is nominated for Best Documentary Feature, in the 2013 Academy Awards.

The title refers to the series of 5 cameras that the filmmaker, Emad Burnat, used over the course of 6 years.  Each camera, in turn, was either shattered by Israeli military gas grenades or shot directly by Israeli fire.  He still has all five cameras.  Emad is a softspoken man who shares his narrative in an even tone.  This makes the action he films all the more shocking.  We are shown a world in which ultraorthodox Jews have decided to settle further into the West Bank, building high concrete buildings and a boundary structure that cuts right across Palestinian lands.  We see the orthodox arrive to move into the high buildings, wearing identical outfits with white shirts and dark pants, the women in white dresses.  We see and hear many angry, indignant, arrogant remarks from this group, including, “if he keeps filming, I’ll break his bones.”

A number of farmers are cut off from their property on the Israeli side of the barrier, a double fence separated by the width of a military Jeep.  The villagers develop a system of nonviolent protest, and they demonstrate peacefully every week.  The Israeli soldiers respond to the unarmed villagers, holding only flags, with teargas canisters and bullets.  At one point we see people shouting in warning tones, and the soldiers have a moment of remorse:  they have shot an Israeli girl.  They are horrified.

Armored Jeep-type Army vehicles roar through the village at night. The villagers are told, at the doors of  their homes, that “the military has declared this area a Closed Military Zone”, and therefore the Army can break into the homes in the middle of the night and arrest people at will, even children.  Children are often arrested and held as long as 18 months, with payments of often 6000 shekels ($1500-2000) required before they can be released.  The children of Bil’im have a march one day, chanting “we want to sleep”.  The 30 children are met again with gas grenades and gunfire.  People are wounded and people are killed all the time here.

Most astonishing is the peaceful manner adopted by the people of Bil’im.  Asked how they deal with the Israeli military occupation, Emad Burnat says, “it takes strength to turn anger into something positive”.  He says further, “[B]y healing, you resist oppression.  Forgotten wounds can’t be healed, so I film to heal.”

Today I talked with Iyad Burnat, the filmmaker’s brother.  He spoke with the same even tone his brother uses in narrating the film.  Today, that made the story even more shocking.  Today I was outraged.  Today I knew I must share this story.

Today you can see the trailer:  http://vimeo.com/15843191 .  Today you can buy the DVD on Amazon.


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● Kebba Buckley Button is a Master’s Degree scientist, a minister, and the award-winning author of  the 2012 book, Peace Within:  Your Peaceful Inner Core (http://tinyurl.com/abd47jr), and also Discover The Secret Energized You (http://tinyurl.com/b44v3br).  She also has a natural healing and stress management practice and is a celebrated public speaker.


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