Sunday, October 14th, 2012


Emid Burnat is a Palestinian farmer who works the same land that his family have done for generations in Bil’in on the West Bank and this movie is his firsthand account when the village is threatened by the encroaching Israeli Settlements.  This highly personal documentary film bears witness to how the non-violent resistance by the villagers to having their land is appropriated, is met with an armed military force that is both shocking and  deadly.

In 2005, Burnat’s fourth son Gibreel is born at the very same time that the Israelis start building a Separation Barrier that annexes part of village’s farm lands.  Burnat gets his first camera ostensibly to record the latest addition to his family, but actually turns it on to the resistance movement that starts to deal with this latest threat to their livelihoods.

Very soon into the conflict, these events begin to affect his family and his own life. Daily arrests, violent attacks, bulldozers knocking down olive trees, the loss of life and regular raids in the village scare his family. One by one his brothers and friends get arrested and jailed, as he eventually does himself. At each setback the villagers persistence and resourcefulness remains consistently high resulting in the Security Forces fighting back even dirtier as they start paying night time visits to the village to arrest young teenage boys.

Throughout the next 5 years as his son grows up and the protest continues to escalate due to the controversial aggressive response by the Israeli security forces, without any regard for his personal safety, Burnat keeps filming right from the centre of the action. Five of his cameras get damaged one way or another and the third one actually took the bullet intended for him thus saving his life, although leaving him seriously wounded. 

In 2007 the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the Barrier be re-routed, but this was simply ignored as more and more Settlements were built on the land.  Eventually some four years after the Court Ruling did some small parts of the lands get restored and the Barrier was removed.  Meanwhile not too far in the distance, the Israels constructed a giant concrete wall instead.

As the need to co-ordinate their resistance more grew, the villagers were joined by some impassioned Israeli activists who supported the cause throughout, and it is equally interesting to note that Burnat turned over all his footage to Guy Davidi, an Israeli filmmaker, for him to co-direct the finished film with him.

Mr Burnat’s roots may have been in farming but his observations particularly in his philosophical narration has turned him into a fine journalist.  The way that he relates each passing episode of the villages turmoil to how it will effect his young growing family gives the whole piece a very personal resonance.  Whatever one’s on take on the deeply entrenched views of both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, when unarmed men and children are fatally shot right in front of Burnat’s camera, then it is impossible not to be positively angry and embittered too

It’s a tough movie to watch but should be compulsory viewing just to admire how one tiny village stood up to a big bully and refused to back down.  Also check out ‘BUDRUS’ from 2007 also about another Palestinian village’s fight back when the Israeli’s threaten to seize all their land too.

Posted by queerguru  at  22:32


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