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A Palestinian farmer’s determined video record of his community’s courageous protest against Israeli encroachment forms this affecting study in human resilience, which has won a string of documentary awards from Sundance to Sheffield.
Emad Burnat’s family has lived in the village of Bil’in for generations, but now the Israeli authorities’ decision to mark out their borders with wire fences and an army presence has been accompanied by an insidious, seemingly relentless land-grab clawing away at the Palestinian enclave. So, the unarmed locals mount daily demonstrations, which the Israeli military greet with tear gas and frequent gunfire, and thus the cycle of hate and mistrust continues.
This often harrowing feature, predicated around the limited lifespan of video cameras which keep stopping army bullets, finds little false optimism in a tense and difficult situation. Its very existence offers a small gesture of hope however, since Burnat’s raw footage was assembled into feature form by Israeli film professor Guy Davidi. A vital and revelatory collaboration. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)