Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Plays Out in Oscar Docs


And like other outsiders – from Israel, Europe, the U.S. – Davidi began protesting with the residents of Bil'in. One thing led to another and within a few years he was structuring and writing the narrative for Burnat's story, combing through hundreds of hours of footage, persuading Burnat to show more of his personal, family life, as it is so intertwined with the life of the village.

Yet despite the fact that Davidi is Israeli, that "Cameras" was made with partial funding from Israel and that it won best documentary at the Jerusalem Film Festival last summer, both Davidi and Burnat are adamant that "Cameras" not be seen as an Israeli-Palestinian collaboration.

"I proposed Guy as a friend, as an activist," said Burnat. "This is my story, Guy came to help. The goal was to make a Palestinian project."

Davidi echoes the sentiment. Were the film to be hailed as an Israeli-Palestinian collaboration, "the discussion could end there. Isn't this nice that an Israeli and a Palestinian are working together," said Davidi. "No. The point of the film is to end the occupation."

This past week in Los Angeles, all three directors have been in town for the Oscars. Although the films are harshly critical of current Israeli politics, the Israeli consulate did co-host a reception for the makers of "The Gatekeepers," according to The Forward, as part of a celebration of 10 years of Israeli-French co-productions. Speaking about both films, David Siegel, the consul general in L.A., said, "We can be proud of the open democratic political discourse we have in Israel," according to the Israeli daily Haaretz. And since the "5 Broken Camera" filmmakers have said they don't want their film's success to be embraced by Israel, Siegel said that the government did not need to accept the film as representing Israel, reported The Forward.

Burnat and his wife and Gibreel almost didn't make it to the Oscars. Arriving at Los Angeles International Airport, they were detained by security for more than an hour, and Burnat was interrogated about his intentions in coming to the U.S. before being released. In a statement sent to ABC News, he called the incident "unpleasant" but "a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every single day, throughout the West Bank."

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