“The Gatekeepers” and “5 Broken Cameras” have already succeeded in breaking one of Israel’s biggest taboos: airing out its dirty laundry on the big screen, for the whole world to see. Now the two films are both heading to the biggest stage of all: the Academy Awards.
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If either one of the films from Israel/Palestine wins in the Best Documentary category, it will be a symbolic achievement for all those who believe Israeli government policies and the occupation are untenable and want to see it held accountable for the violent cycle Israelis and Palestinians continue to be in.
But there are salient and important differences between the films. Most obviously, “The Gatekeepers” provides the perspective of the privileged and powerful occupier, while “5 Broken Cameras” speaks for the powerless and debilitated occupied. While each film exposes Israel’s systematically unethical treatment of Palestinians, if either one one is chosen by the Academy as the winner, it will mean very different things.