Recommended Film/Video Viewing
Each year, there are so many new films being aired that are telling the Israel/Palestine story from the viewpoint of the Palestinians that it is difficult to keep up with them all. You will find a selective listing on this page of some of the best you could hope to watch. We will also be adding new ones as they are released, so keep an eye out for these recommendations.
We want to extend our thanks to the Rochester, NY Film Festival organizers for sharing their research with us; their annual fall event is fantastic, and you can learn more about it at:
It’s Better to Jump
The title refers to a rite of passage for young people – jumping off the precipice of the Ottoman-era sea wall into the Mediterranean.
“Jumping gives you strength to face your future. A young person will take one jump today, and make ten more in life. There’s a direct connection between jumping and life.” – Waleed Kashash, artist
“In life, it’s better to jump.” – Makram Khourty, actor
When I Saw You
“When I Saw You is cinematic poetry – beautiful, groundbreaking and deeply, deeply moving.”
— The Huffington Post
The setting is 1967 at a refugee camp near Amman, Jordan. New refugees are arriving frequently in the aftermath of the six-day war – joining some who came after the Nakba. Ghaydaa and her 11-year-old son Tarek are among the new arrivals. They don’t know what happened to their husband/father; perhaps he was killed in the fighting.
Tarek is a precocious child; he has his schoolwork aced, sometimes to the chagrin of his teacher. Tarek doesn’t understand why they can’t go back home and find his father and a teacher he liked better. “We came on foot; why can’t we go back on foot?”
He sets out alone and comes across a fedayee militia, which takes him under their care. They’re training in the woods, using some Russian-supplied weapons, in hopes of fighting to return to Palestine.
The story explores Palestinian exiles’ longing to return home.
On the Side of the Road
Filmmaker Lia Tarachansky is a Jew who was born in Kiev. When she was six her family moved to the Ariel settlement in the West Bank. Her mother wanted to contribute to Zionism, Lia said.
Tarachansky turns the camera on herself as she revisits settlements and interviews current residents. She says her goal is just to examine and narrate.
Themes covered include:
Voices Across the Divide
Filmmaker Alice Rothchild is an American Jew raised on the tragedies of the Holocaust and the dream of a Jewish homeland in Israel. Voices Across the Divide follows her personal journey as she begins to understand the Palestinian narrative while exploring the Palestinian experience of loss, occupation, statelessness, and immigration to the US. The documentary is both a personal journey to understand the Palestinian narrative as well as the implications and contradictions of deeply held cultural beliefs in the Jewish community.
Rothchild interviews those who participated in the Nakba – and those affected by it.
Themes covered in the interviews include:
Voices Across the Divide co-won the 2013 Audience Award (with “A World Not Ours”) at the Boston Palestinian Film Festival.
Stone Cold Justice
This is a joint report by Australian Broadcasting and The Australian newspaper. Reporter John Lyons travels to the West Bank to hear the story of children who claim they have been taken into custody, ruthlessly questioned, and then allegedly forced to sign confessions before being taken to court for sentencing.
Lyons meets Australian lawyer Gerard Horton, who’s trying to help the boys who are arrested, and also talks to senior Israeli officials to examine what’s driving the army’s strategy.
The program focuses on the stories of three boys: Islam Dar Ayyoub, Fathi Mahfouz, and Husam Zumara, all teenagers. In two cases the army came for the children in the middle of the night before taking them to unknown locations where they are questioned.
A five-year-old arrested during the night is also described.
“I’ve never broken into houses in Jerusalem and torn apart apartments, but in Hebron where I served 14 months 24/7 that’s what we did to make our presence felt,” says ex-soldier and co-founder of ‘Breaking the Silence’ group Yehuda Shaul, explaining the huge difference in treatment that the Palestinians in the West Bank receive compared to Israelis, and the tactics used to create a culture of fear.
It’s a claim that’s dismissed out of hand by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “A policy to create fear? There is no such thing. The only policy is to maintain law and order, that’s all. If there’s no violence, there’s no law enforcement.” But there is clear evidence of two legal systems operating – one for Israeli children and one for young Palestinians. Israeli settlers in the West Bank regularly attack Palestinian school children, knowing the authorities will not intervene.
It’s an impossible situation that may provide temporary security for Israel, but in the long term may well breed a new generation of Palestinians prepared to do anything to gain retribution.
From al-Araqib to Susiya
“Two villages: one story.” The story is Israeli suppression of the eponymous villages, one in the Negev west of the green line, the other in the West Bank near Hebron. This film shows Israel’s parallel displacement policies on both sides of the Green Line and people’s determination to resist as they seek to remain on their land.
Starting in 2010, Israelis demolished structures in the villages multiple times, ostensibly because they’re illegal or unrecognized or built without permits.
The real reason, one of the Bedouins interviewed said, is that “They [Israelis] don’t want to see a single Palestinian Arab.”
Also the Israel-enacted Prawer Plan aims to destroy 35 “unrecognized” villages and displace 70,000 Bedouin citizens of Israel.”
Another source of films and videos is the Just Vision website. You will have access to a wide variety of films about the lives of Palestinians and Israelis – very compelling stories.
Life in Occupied Palestine
Anna Baltzer, a Jewish-American Columbia graduate and Fulbright scholar, presents her discoveries as a volunteer with the International Women’s Peace Service in the West Bank, documenting human rights abuses and supporting Palestinian-led nonviolent resistance to the Occupation. Baltzer’s presentation provides those interested in the Israel/ Palestine conflict with critical information and documentation that can be difficult to obtain through mainstream Western media sources, and to encourage dialog towards taking action on the issue. Topics discussed include checkpoints, settlements, Israeli activism, Zionism, 1948 War & refugees, censorship, the Wall, the ongoing annexation of Palestinian land, and the almost unbearable living conditions under the occupation.
The Stones Cry Out – The Story of the Palestinians Christians
All too often media coverage of the conflict in Palestine has framed it as a fight between Muslims and Jews, largely ignoring the fact that Palestine was the birthplace of Christianity, that Palestinians are both Muslims and Christians, and that Palestinian Christians have played a critical role in their land’s history and the struggle to maintain its identity. From 1948 up to today, through wars and uprisings, leading Palestinian Christians, including the late President of Beir Zeit University Gabi Baramki, Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi, civil society activist Ghassan Andoni, Patriarch Emeritus Michel Sabbah and others recount the unwavering and sometimes desperate struggle of all Palestinians to resist Israel’s occupation and stay on their land.
With God on Our Side
With God On Our Side takes a hard look at the theology and politics of Christian Zionism, which teaches that because the Jews are God’s chosen people, Israeli government policies should not be questioned, even when these policies are unjust.
Little Town of Bethlehem
The documentary shares the gripping story of three men, born into violence, willing to risk everything to bring an end to violence in their lifetime. A Christian, a Muslim, and a Jew-shaped by events of their Palestinian and Israeli upbringing-find inspiration in the words and actions of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. Sami, Ahmad, and Yonatan believe that violence can indeed be stopped but recognize their own struggles will remain. Yet they will struggle together to discover a common humanity through non-violent action. In the city of Bethlehem where it is said God became man, these men stand alongside others whose central desire is to be accepted and treated as fully human.Their story brings fresh hope to the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel while taking a stand against violence throughout the world
Home Front – Portraits From Sheikh Jarrah
Getting beyond the sensational headlines and broad generalizations that normally dominate discussions of Jerusalem, Home Front captures voices rarely heard, of those struggling to stop settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and build a future of pluralism and equality in the city.
Featuring the accounts of a Palestinian teenager forced to give up half his home to Israeli settlers, an American-born Israeli mother who gets drawn into the demonstrations after her children’s arrest, a Palestinian community organizer who brings local women to the forefront of the struggle, and a veteran of the Israeli army who becomes one of the campaign’s leaders, Home Front chronicles the resolve of a neighborhood, and the support it receives from the most unexpected of places.