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Video: Promises (Israel/Palestine)

Title: Promises
Genre: Documentary (Israel/Palestine)
Pages: 106 minutes
Rating: 5 out of 5
FTC Disclosure: I bought this video
Challenges: Social Justice
Summary: (from the website): Promises follows the journey of one of the filmmakers, Israeli-American B.Z. Goldberg. B.Z. travels to a Palestinian refugee camp and to an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, and to the more familiar neighborhoods of Jerusalem where he meets seven Palestinian and Israeli children. Though the children live only 20 minutes apart, they exist in completely separate worlds; the physical, historical and emotional obstacles between them run deep. 

PROMISES explores the nature of these boundaries and tells the story of a few children who dared to cross the lines to meet their neighbors. Rather than focusing on political events, the seven children featured in PROMISES offer a refreshing, human and sometimes humorous portrait of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

PROMISES, a film by Justine Shapiro, B.Z. Goldberg and co-director and editor Carlos Bolado, was shot between 1995-2000.

The Children
The 7 children featured in PROMISES were filmed over 4 years when they were 9-12 years old:
  • Yarko & Daniel. Secular Israeli twin boys living in Jerusalem.
  • Faraj. A Palestinian refugee boy living in the Deheishe Refugee Camp in the West Bank.
  • Sanabel. A Palestinian refugee girl in the Deheishe Refugee Camp in the West Bank.
  • Shlomo. An ultra-orthodox Jewish boy in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
  • Mahmoud. A Palestinian boy living in East Jerusalem.
  • Moishe & sister Raheli live in the Beit El Settlement in the West Bank
Arabic, Hebrew and English dialogue with English subtitles.

Review: I discovered this documentary when I was teaching about the conflict in Israel and Palestine in my tenth grade World History class. I am loathe to show an entire movie/video in class, but thought this one was so well done and so important that each year I showed the entire video to my students. Every year they agreed this was the best video we watched.

The teens in the documentary are so real, so innocent, so angry, so knowledgable, and so fun that the viewer is pulled into their lives, can see both sides of the conflict, and truly understands their lives better by the end. I recommend this film to anyone who is interested in religious issues, the conflict in the area, seeing what life is like in Jerusale, the Palestinian refugee camps, and the Jewish settlements. But, you don't have to take my word for it, check out the list of awards the film has won:

2003 One World Broadcast Trust Award for the Children's Rights Category, UK.
2002 Emmy Award “Best Documentary”
2002 Emmy Award “Outstanding Background Analysis”
2002 The NBR Freedom of Expression Citation National Board of Review
2002 The Michael Landon Award for Community Service to Youth Twenty-Third Annual Young Artist Awards
2001 Rotterdam International Film Festival. Audience Award and Best Film
2001 Munich Film Festival Freedom of Expression Award
2001 Jerusalem Film Festival Special Festival Award
2001 Locarno International Film Festival Special Ecumenical Jury Prize
2001 San Francisco International Film Festival Audience Award, Best Documentary Grand Prize, Best Documentary Golden Gate Award, Documentary Film
2001 Vancouver International Film Festival Audience Award, Diversity in Spirit Award
2001 Hamptons International Film Festival Best Documentary
2001 Sao Paulo International Film Festival Best Documentary Audience Award
2001 Valladolid International Film Festival Best Documentary
2001 Paris International Film Festival (Rencontres) Audience Award-Best Film


Stephanie said...

This sounds amazing! I really want my homeschooled kids to watch it.

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

This does sound good. I am trying to think where I have heard of it before. Nice review!