Oscar nod for protest film cheers Palestinians

Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:57am EST
 

By Noah Browning

RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Oscar-nominated documentary "5 Broken Cameras" screened for Palestinians for the first time on Monday, leaving locals hopeful that their struggle with Israel for land and statehood will gain a global audience.

The low-cost film is based on five years of amateur camera work by journalist Emad Burnat as he documented weekly protests against land seizures by Israeli forces and Jewish settlers in his village of Bil'in in the occupied West Bank.

Neighbors are killed in the protests and demolition equipment mars the landscape while the filmmaker captures his infant son's rapid loss of innocence, heralded by his first words: "wall" and "army."

"This is a film for those who were martyred. It's bigger than me and bigger than Bil'in. More than a billion people follow the Oscars and they will know our struggle now," Burnat said after the viewing.

His work will compete at next month's Oscar ceremony against four other films, including a documentary called "The Gatekeepers" that looks at the decades-old Middle East conflict through the eyes of six top former Israeli intelligence bosses.

Although the perspective is very different, both movies share a surprisingly similar message -- the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is morally wrong and must end.

Burnat's film received a standing ovation at its premier in Ramallah, the Palestinians' administrative capital, with the audience excited to see their seemingly endless conflict splashed on the big screen.

"The film shows the whole world what occupation is. It wiped the happiness off the boy's face at too young an age. This has been the experience for all of us," said taxi driver Ahmed Mustafa, who brought his wife and child to the viewing   Continued...

 
A poster for the Oscar-nominated documentary "5 Broken Cameras" is displayed at a theatre in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 28, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman