Last year, in a nearly empty screening room, I saw what became an Academy Award finalist in the documentary category, “5 Broken Cameras.” I then interviewed filmmaker Guy Davidi about his background and his work on the film for The Arty Semite.
Recently I had another email conversation with Davidi, discussing how he’s faring with his film in the limelight, the nature of his collaboration with his Palestinian co-director Emad Burnat, and whether he knew if his colleague (a novice in the trade) would pursue filmmaking in the future.
When asked his view of the other Israeli-produced film nominated for best documentary, “The Gatekeepers,” he was reluctant to say much, citing an Academy rule prohibiting him from commenting on a fellow nominee. He responded mainly about his experience as a nominee with his Palestinian partner, but began with the political impact of the other work:
”The Gatekeepers” has put an end to the claim that Ehud Barak conveyed that there is no Palestinian partner; for me [this] is the most important achievement of the film and [on] the political discourse in Israel.
When emailing and skyping with Guy Davidi, the 33-year old Israeli co-director of “5 Broken Cameras,” opening May 30 in New York at the Film Forum, one encounters a sophisticated — albeit imperfect — speaker of English, with a vaguely British accent. His views, however, are always sharp: “My belief is that the construction of the wall has little to do with [the] security of Israel,” he said, because “there are still many settlers and settlements [on] the ‘Palestinian side’ of the wall. The choice to locate it within the occupied territories allows [Israel] to confiscate new Palestinian lands which makes any talk [of a] 2 state solution less and less relevant.”
Davidi first came to the West Bank village of Bil’in from his native Tel Aviv in 2005, as an “Indymedia” activist. Bil’in has been engaged in a non-violent struggle against Israel’s security barrier, which encroaches on its property, as do a number of Jewish settlements. Davidi spent several months there making his first full-length film, “Interrupted Streams” (2006). His current work documents life in Bil’in through 2010, when Israel’s supreme court ordered part of the security barrier to be removed from village land.