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Home videos turn into Oscar-nominated documentary

February 19th, 2013
12:53 PM ET

By Meredith Milstein & Samuel Burke, CNN

When a Palestinian farmer named Emad Burnat bought a home video camera to record the birth of his youngest son, he didn't realize he would end up capturing the birth of a movement.

Burnat became the unofficial cameraman for his village of Bil'in in the occupied West Bank, and documented five years of local resistance against the encroaching Israeli settlements and the separation wall snaking through his and his neighbors' lands.

The home movies have now been transformed into the Oscar-nominated documentary, "5 Broken Cameras." READ MORE: Six Israeli security chiefs stun the world

“I wanted to be part of the struggle of my people in the village,” Burnat told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “I felt, and the people felt, that the camera could protect them.”

Although it is very much a film from a Palestinian perspective, it was co-directed by Burnat's Israeli friend Guy Davidi, who is also a filmmaker.

Davidi knew they would both be criticized for working with each other.

“The minute we decided the film was going to be Emad as the main character,” Davidi said, “then, it was much more comfortable for me, as an Israeli, to work with Emad, because I'm helping him shape his voice and not interfering with my own voice.”

In the documentary, the Palestinian farmer captured moments when the on-going conflict crosses paths with crucial moments in his toddler’s life. Burnat was filming as some of his little boy’s first words were uttered: army, cartridge and the Arabic word for the security fence separating and Israel and the West Bank.

“Our kids grow up like this, in this situation. So they open their eyes and they are facing the soldiers around the houses, in the streets. And they talk about the army and the soldiers,” Burnat said.

In the video above you can see Christiane Amanpour’s interview with both Palestinian and Israeli filmmakers, as well as parts of the documentary including the moment Burnat had to decide to put the camera down or keep filming as he watched his own father in a dispute with Israeli soldiers.

RELATED: Israel’s former prime minister: ‘Time is running out for Israel’

Filed under:  Israel • Palestinian territories
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. raj

    well thats the power of camera the pictures says a lot more than the scripted words its nice to see peoples imagination and virtue of thinking as they capture some real time pics with the thought and narrations these are beyond day to day hardship one has to undergo for a country or a place sometimes it just clicks and all you have to make sure you are there at the right moment and the right time as they say no matter what you do if you are not at the correct place at the correct time your destiny remains as is....

    February 20, 2013 at 2:47 am | Reply
  2. prayforpeas

    How ironic, Emad Burnat was given a psych eval in '5 Broken Cameras.' It is time to discuss the pathology of the state of Israel. A people traumatized in WWII, the Jews now suffer from PTSD and what Anna Freud termed "identifying with the aggressor," repeating crimes they were once victimized by.

    During Senator Marc Rubio's recent press conference in Israel he stated that progress comes when Israel 'feels safe.' Not gonna happen folks! The compensatory policies and arms build up based on a neurotic need to feel 'safe' has inflamed their neighbors, thereby creating hostility and adversaries that will naturally defend themselves.

    To the psychiatrist that examined Emad Burnat I say "Physician, heal thy people!!!!!!!!!!!"

    The rest of us must stop colluding in the pathology before we blow up the entire Middle East by rejecting the term anti-semetism for rational discussion of an irrational nation, and examine the butterfly effect Israel's PTSD has had on the entire planet.

    February 23, 2013 at 11:51 am | Reply
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