Israeli films win big at Sundance

“This is an amazing moment for me as a filmmaker, but it’s a film about a painful and unresolved subject," director says.

'The Law in These Parts' film poster 311  (photo credit: Courtesy)
'The Law in These Parts' film poster 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israeli directors Ra’anan Alexandrowicz and Emad Burnat have forever put their stamp on Israeli cinema. Alexandrowicz’s film The Law In These Parts won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize in Documentary Film at the Sundance Film Festival. Burnat took home the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award for his film 5 Broken Cameras.
The Law In These Parts is a critical investigation of the IDF’s court system.
Through interviews with the lawmakers that engineered and implemented the complicated web of military laws currently in place, Alexandrowicz asks many crucial questions about the occupation.
For the project, Alexandrowicz rounded up a veritable who’s who of military attorneys including Justice Amnon Strashnov, Alexander Ramati, Dov Shefi and Justice Meir Shamgar.
Though few of these are household names, their work has affected thousands and thousands of lives. In the film, Alexandrowicz asks these men to consider the consequences of the laws they brought about, eliciting incredibly candid and uncomfortable moments.
The film has been picking up speed in recent months, with showings around Israel and feedback sessions with Alexandrowicz. In 2011, the film won best documentary at the Jerusalem Film Festival. Though this is not the film’s first prize, it is certainly a formidable one. The invitation to Sundance marked a major moment for The Law In These Parts. The award marks an even bigger step for both Alexandrowicz and the story he has told with this film.
“This is the hardest film I’ve made,” said Alexandrowicz shortly after the awards ceremony. “This is an amazing moment for me as a filmmaker, but it’s a film about a painful and unresolved subject. What you find out in the film, and in other films in this festival, is that upholding law doesn’t always lead to justice. It can even be used as a tool against certain segments of society. We have to oppose them, and if necessary we have to break them.”
5 Broken Cameras, written by Guy Davidi and directed together with Burnat, was a joint Palestinian, Israeli and French production.
The film follows Burnat and his budding family over the course of several years in their West Bank village of Bil’in. Burnat is engaged in filming the nonviolent struggle against the erection of a separation barrier near his home. As the film progresses, the struggle begins to play a larger and larger role in Burnat’s everyday life and the lives of his family members.
The title 5 Broken Cameras refers to the many recording devices that were destroyed by Israeli soldiers during confrontations with the inhabitants of Bil’in.
“I can’t believe I’m standing here,” said Burnat. “This film was a gift from the beginning. It was a gift for me to go to this village building where I spent many years.”
For more information about The Law In These Parts, visit and for 5 Broken Cameras