Mairav Zonszein writes: “The Gatekeepers” and “5 Broken Cameras” have already succeeded in breaking one of Israel’s biggest taboos: airing out its dirty laundry on the big screen, for the whole world to see. Now the two films are both heading to the biggest stage of all: the Academy Awards.
If either one of the films from Israel/Palestine wins in the Best Documentary category, it will be a symbolic achievement for all those who believe Israeli government policies and the occupation are untenable and want to see it held accountable for the violent cycle Israelis and Palestinians continue to be in.
But there are salient and important differences between the films. Most obviously, “The Gatekeepers” provides the perspective of the privileged and powerful occupier, while “5 Broken Cameras” speaks for the powerless and debilitated occupied. While each film exposes Israel’s systematically unethical treatment of Palestinians, if one is chosen by the Academy as the winner, it will mean very different things.
“The Gatekeepers,” directed by Israeli filmmaker Dror Moreh, who previously made a movie about Ariel Sharon and his decision to withdraw from Gaza in 2005, brings together six former Shin Bet agents to expose the moral and tactical failures in the country’s secret internal security infrastructure. “5 Broken Cameras” is a documentary jointly directed by Palestinian Emad Burnat and Israeli Guy Davidi, chronicling the West Bank village Bil’in’s response to Israel’s construction of the separation wall and routine Israeli Defense Force harassment and raids.
To make the $1.5 million-film, Moreh had to gain access to some of Israel’s most elite and authoritative figures on national security. It was filmed in a polished studio, providing the six interviewees with impeccable make-up and lighting and includes highly sophisticated digitally recreated archive footage.
To make the $250,000 “5 Broken Cameras,” Burnat pretty much just had to get hold of a camera and turn it on. It shows rough and at times jumbled footage shot by Burnat with his five different cameras, all of which are an objective testament to the damage inflicted by IDF methods over the course of years of weekly protests in Bil’in.
While both films reflect a different piece of the harsh reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they exist in entirely separate political discourses. “The Gatekeepers” takes place within Israel’s national ethos, from a conscious place of privilege and power. Palestinians are not really present in “The Gatekeepers,” except as the legitimate enemy as well as the victimized “other.” [Continue reading…]