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.
For me the Oscar is not an easy experience; many people and the media expect it to be a national thing, and for me to represent Israel. The media referred to us and “The Gatekeepers” as [two] Israeli films in the Oscar, while not mentioning [that] “5 Broken Cameras” is Palestinian as well, which started territorial claims over the film. It is unnecessary as in this category, not like [in] the foreign [language] film category, the film is not representing a country. The Palestinian response also was very angry due to that, so their counter reaction was to claim the film as theirs. For me films have no nationalities; the film is a Palestinian-Israeli-French co-production, [with] Israeli and Palestinian directors and a story that is told [with] Palestinian characters and in the West Bank.But there is a very positive side, of course; there is great exposure to the film in Israel and Palestine and now it actually matters much more. Many new audiences try to watch it, so it’s great for us.I wrote the [script]. Originally Emad didn’t want to make a film on himself, his family or Gibreel [his youngest son]. Since he filmed many things, he did have some great personal footage. Now in reflection, he says he always wanted to make a personal film….I don’t know if he will do more films; I’m not sure if [he] wants to. If he has a good team that will help him to shape a story, he might be able to do so. Creating a film is teamwork, and the most important quality is to be able to bring all the creative people to work together.
Why Oscar Nominee Doesn't Represent Israel