Budrus (2009) is a truly remarkable documentary of great power. The film documents Budrus, a small village in Palestine on the borders of Israel, and the story of the village leader who unites Fatah, Hamas and members of the international community in a peaceful protest against occupying troops attempting to erect the dividing wall.
The style of documentary is incredibly honest and simple, allowing the voices of those interviewed to tell a powerful tale of resistance. It is precisely this that gives the movie its power. There are no attempts to get an emotive response from viewers with music or slow motion shots; it is all footage captured on the scene at protests combined with a variety of interviews. Israeli and Palestinian perspectives are aired, resulting in a balanced approach that does not force a set of beliefs upon the viewer.
This is no piece of blatant pro-Palestine propaganda; instead it is a clear attempt to give a balanced account. A quote from the village leader sums up the attitude of the film rather neatly: “We are not against anyone, we are against the occupation”.
The message is simply that they have little care that the people attacking them are Israeli (especially when one considers there are liberal Israelis protesting with the villagers of Budrus), but simply that their way of life and means of income are being destroyed by the erection of the dividing wall. The footage of protests and interviews are broken up with news reports that demonstrate the naivety of those in government. Their undiplomatic approach has failed to consider the needs, let alone rights, of the people of Palestine.
Budrus repeatedly stresses peaceful methods of protest and is a wonderful opportunity to see a side of the Middle East all too rarely profiled in Western media. We often hear of protest- bombings, suicide missions and innocent civilians being attacked. The chance to see members of Fatah and Hamas protesting peacefully with Jews and Americans for their rights is something of a revelation. There are also painful moments in the film, in particular when the Israeli soldiers attack a group of Palestinian women with tear gas and beat them with flick sticks.
Budrus is an honest portrait of a group of individuals whose concern is not race, creed or religion but the right to live freely and, despite violent oppression, to achieve that end through peaceful means.