Grand Traverse Insider: 'People Just Like Us'
"Israel and Palestine, an Animated Introduction" produced by Jewish Voice for Peace to be shown at Just Peace Film Festival in Traverse City.
'People Just Like Us', Kristine Morris, Grand Traverse Insider, March 4, 2013.
MidEast: Just Peace Film Festival to show Palestinian side of Middle East conflict
TRAVERSE CITY – On March 8 and 9, the first MidEast: Just Peace (MEJP) Film Festival, “From Palestine to Traverse City,” will be held at the Inside Out Gallery, 229 Garland St.
The two-day festival will screen nine compelling, thought-provoking films, including documentaries, features and shorts. These works from directors around the world offer views of Palestine and its history, culture and geographically dispersed society.
“Films tell a story in a non-threatening, yet informative way,” said MidEast: Just Peace co-founder Marian Kromkowski. “It’s our hope that audiences will not only enjoy the talent exhibited by the filmmakers, but also will be motivated to learn more.”
Peggy Fry, of the MEJP Film Selection Committee, agrees.
“This film festival will provide an opportunity for so many of us to experience life in Palestine through film – nowhere else will we be able to watch films of this type and do so in a great social atmosphere,” said Fry. “Participants will realize that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to legitimate information coming out of the Middle East from most corporate media.”
The film “Five Broken Cameras” (documentary, 90 minutes) will open the festival at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 8. Nominated for an Academy Award, this film is the story of Palestinian photojournalist who chronicles his village’s resistance to a Separation Barrier being erected on their land.
As he captures the events and their effect on his family, the cameras that he is using are smashed, one after another. At 9 p.m. Joshua Davis will perform songs from his new CD, “A Miracle of Birds,” inspired by his travels with On the Ground for the Run Across Palestine.
The festival resumes at 10 a.m. on Saturday with two films centering on women’s issues in honor of International Women’s Day.
“Private Sun,” a 25-minute documentary, is the story of Mariam, who is ill as the result of a vitamin D deficiency. Although advised by her doctor to get direct sunlight, nosy neighbors, an overbearing sister-in-law and surveillance planes make her private time in the sun precious and rare.
“Kingdom of Women” (docu-drama, 54 minutes) tells of the resilience, intelligence and valor of Palestinian women in Ein El Hilweh, the largest refugee camp in Lebanon, which has suffered through several invasions and Lebanon’s long civil war.
The 1 p.m. session will feature the 90-minute documentary, “The War Around Us,” produced by Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin and Sherine Tadros, who were the only two international reporters in Gaza during the 2008-2009 war.
The 3 p.m. session will focus on the economic, social and cultural impact of the Israeli occupation through screenings of “Samir’s Room,” a 15-minute short about a college student who returns home to find that Israeli settlers have occupied parts of his family’s home in Jerusalem, erasing his past and his memories. The gentle and life-affirming film shows how Samir takes his unexpected, touching and delightful revenge.
“Sacred Stones” (documentary, 52 minutes), tells how the Palestinian stone industry is held hostage to Israeli construction demands, including the building of illegal settlements in occupied lands.
“The Great Book Robbery,” (57 minutes) documents the little-known confiscation of whole libraries of Arabic books from Palestinian residents of Jerusalem, casting dramatic new light upon what happened to the Palestinian people and their culture in 1948.
Closing the festival at 6:30 p.m. will be “The Time that Remains” (drama, 109 minutes), by acclaimed director Elia Suleiman, which highlights the dramatically divergent narratives of Israelis and Palestinians on the changes in their country.
Throughout the festival there will be a screening of “Israel and Palestine, an Animated Introduction” – a six-minute, easy-to-understand mini-primer produced by Jewish Voices for Peace that answers the question: “What are Israelis and Palestinians fighting over, and what is the solution?”
At 8:30 p.m. there will be a closing celebration featuring Palestinian hors d’oeuvres and sweets.
Tickets are $25 for an all-film-session package or $8 for an individual session. Tickets for the Joshua Davis concert are $15 for general admission and $20 for reserved seating. They are available at Oryana, Higher Grounds Coffee and Inside Out Gallery.
Learn more at MidEastJust Peace.org or on Facebook at MidEastJustPeace.
Comments from the Organizers
“Neither side to this frightful and intractable controversy is completely right or completely wrong,” said MidEast: Just Peace Film Selection Committee member Steve Morse. “But these films depict the Palestinian people and the side to which the American public is seldom exposed. Those interested in the people of the Middle East owe it to themselves to see these award-winning films.”
“This is what occupation really looks like,” said MEJP co-founder Sally Neal. “This is realtime information you’ll never see on corporate-dominated media.”
MEJP co-founder Gina Araki said, “I think film is an increasingly important way people tell their stories. In the United States, Palestinians have been excluded from other means of sharing theirs. I view this film festival as a way to humanize average Palestinians – people like us who eat, drink, live and love just like anybody.
“Once we overcome the fear and realize that such people are essentially the same, we can’t demonize them or write them off with stereotypes. We hope for peace and justice and the ability to live happily for them. These films do a great job of making that point,” she added.