5 Broken Cameras is an Israeli documentary about the first year of filmmaker Emad Burnat’s baby’s life. Burnat lives right next to the security fence and had five of his cameras smashed while making the film, hence the name. 5 Broken Cameras won the best film award at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival and could very well win best documentary at the Oscars this year.
The other Israeli documentary nominated is The Gatekeepers. This documentary is less personal and more informative. It uses interviews with several directors of Israel’s Shin Bet security service to discuss security and politics in Israel. It has received less attention outside of Israel and is not considered to be a likely a contender for this year’s Oscar.
The favorite going into this year would probably be the much talked about drug war documentary The House I Live In. The work is deeply compelling but also comes at a time when the United States is reexamining drug policy. Although it is the favorite, the field remains wide open.
The coming weeks will reveal which documentaries are on the short-short list, these are the five films that receive an official nomination. Even getting as far as the first short list, however, opens many doors for a documentary filmmaker.