Two films -- both of which appear on my list of "best films of 2012" -- have been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Film.
The two films are --
- · Five Broken Cameras by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, about the Palestinian resistance movement in the village of Bili'in, against the separation barrier which was arbitrarily dividing the people of the village from their agricultural lands.
- · The Gatekeepers by Dror Moreh, an exposé of the critical decision-making by the leadership of the Shin Bet, the Israeli security establishment.
The fact that two Israeli films were nominated for an Oscar is incredibly important for the Israeli film industry. It shows that documentary filmmaking here is on par with that around the world and that our films are not only well-made, but they also tackle important and controversial issues.
There is another reason that it is so important that we have reached this milestone -- this will bring both local and international attention to the subject matter of the films. Both films deal with how the Israeli military controls the civilian population in the West Bank. Right-wingers in Israel don't like the term -- but the "occupation" is the word used by most of the Western press and some of the Israeli press to refer to Israeli rule of most of the West Bank for the past 45 years . While this is a stark reality that has been facing us for a long time, most Israelis live in denial about it and prefer not to know the details. These two films present them in their harsh reality, which must no longer be ignored.
You might be surprised to learn that it is hardly part of the nation's discourse in the upcoming elections. Most of the "mainstream" Israeli political parties are not discussing plans for renewing the peace process, for bringing about "two states for two peoples", or beginning to talk about the need to withdraw from settlements in the West Bank as a compromise on the road to peace.
The irony is that the attention that these films will receive in Hollywood may bring these subjects back into the center of public debate within Israeli society.