“5 Broken Cameras” is a documentary film that depicts the Palestinian struggle, directed by Emad Burnat. In this article, we will share the journey of Emad Burnat from Palestine to the Oscars.
Emad Burnat, a Palestinian villager, bought his first camera in 2005 when his fourth child was born. He learned cinematography through his own experiences. He started documenting his son Gibreel’s childhood and the hardships faced by the local community. Through these recordings, he portrays the reality of war and the oppression they face as vividly as possible. Thus, his journey from Palestine to the Oscars begins.
5 Broken Cameras
As Israelis occupy Palestinian territories, there is a great resistance from the Palestinian people against the occupation. In response to this resistance, the village witnesses daily arrests and acts of violence. Israeli soldiers frequently shoot or arrest Emad’s friends, brothers, and even himself in these incidents. Emad Burnat captures a significant portion of these events on camera as evidence of the atrocities committed. However, the Israeli soldiers break his camera, rendering it unusable, because he records the acts of oppression. In fact, one of his cameras, damaged by gunfire, saves Emad’s life.
At the end of the day, with five broken cameras, Burnat collaborates with Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi to create the documentary “5 Broken Cameras.” This documentary shows the audience where Emad Burnat comes from and his struggle for survival. Each camera represents a chapter in Burnat’s life and a glimpse into history. The documentary is titled “5 Broken Cameras” because it symbolizes the number of cameras destroyed during the shootings. The film has received awards from various parts of the world and was nominated for an Oscar.
The Oscar Journey Was Not Easy
Emad and his family were invited to the Oscar ceremony in Los Angeles. However, they were detained for 40 minutes at LAX Airport. Due to security concerns, it seemed unlikely for Palestinians to be invited to the US and the Oscars, so they were questioned. The immigration office asked Emad to prove that he was an Oscar nominee; otherwise, he would be sent back to Turkey, the country he flew from. In response, Emad messaged documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, explaining the situation. Michael Moore expressed his outrage on Twitter and contacted Oscar officials to help Emad and his family through this challenging situation.
Awards Received by the Documentary
“5 Broken Cameras” was nominated for Best Documentary at the 2013 Academy Awards. In addition to the Oscar nomination, it won the 2013 International Emmy Award, the Best Director award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, the Best Director award at the 2021 Prague Film Festival, and the Audience Award and Special Jury Prize at the 2011 IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam). It has an 8/10 rating on IMDb and a 7.7/10 rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
In 2012, The Guardian described the documentary as a “brutal reminder of the difficulty and obstinacy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” The New York Times also stated that “5 Broken Cameras” serves as a relentless reminder of the harshness and tenacity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.