Five films

Published April 15, 2014

A sampling of best films/documentaries that shed light on the Middle East conflict

1. Five Broken Cameras
Duration: 1 hour, 30 minutes

An Oscar-nominated documentary based on a Palestinian farmer’s video diary of the turmoil in his West Bank village of Bil’in. Emad Burnat bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his fourth son, the same year that an Israeli separation barrier was being built. Over a period of five years, Burnat records the villagers’ non-violent resistance to the construction of “The Separation Wall” and the building of more Israeli settlements. The footage was given to Israeli director Guy Davidi, who helped transform it into a moving documentary.

2. Moshe and Munir
Duration: 20 minutes; available at

Two old friends-one Palestinian, one Jewish-reconnect after years of physical and cultural separation, in this powerful and uplifting documentary by CBC’s Adrienne Arsenault.


3. Bethlehem
Duration: 1 hour, 39 minutes

Directed by Israeli Yuval Adler, who co-wrote the script with Muslim Palestinian journalist Ali Waked, the film revolves around the bond that develops between an Israeli secret service officer and his young Palestinian informant, Sanfur. Response to the film has been positive in the Palestinian territories, Adler tells “I’ve had Israelis tell me: ‘The Palestinian character may be a terrorist, but when I see his father crying over him, it breaks my heart and it confuses me.’ That’s the kind of thing the film can provoke. I think it can transcend the one-sidedness you can sometimes get on this issue.”

Bethlehem won the top prize at the 2013 Venice Film Festival and was the Israeli entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.

4. Amreeka
Duration: 1 hour, 37 minutes

An independent film about a Palestinian Christian single mother from the West Bank, who moves with her teenage son from a small town to Chicago. Amreeka (Arabic for “America”) premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, where it received critical praise for its light-hearted but poignant chronicling of an Arab immigrant’s life in post-9/11 America.

5. Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People
Duration: 50 minutes

Until you watch this documentary film, you won’t realize how much the biggest Hollywood films may have influenced the way you view Arabs, oftentimes in oh-so-subtle ways. Directed by Sut Jhally, Reel Bad Arabs was produced in 2006 by the Media Education Foundation, which produces and distributes documentary films and other educational resources “to inspire critical thinking about the social, political, and cultural impact of American mass media.”


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