Last week, Budrus, an award winning documentary by Brazilian filmmaker Julia Bacha, was released on DVD. It is an inspiring film about a small Palestinian village (Budrus) that was about to face economic ruin due to the removal of their olive trees by the Israeli military to make room for Israel’s Separation Barrier. As noted in The Jewish Daily Forward:
“The documentary, which has won plaudits on the film festival circuit, depicts a mostly nonviolent series of protests against the separation barrier that Israel has set in place between its citizens and West Bank Palestinians. The long trail of fences and walls was built in response to the second intifada, an extended campaign of suicide bombings against civilians by Palestinian terrorist groups. But the ostensible security barrier often deviates from the internationally recognized Green Line that separates Israel from the occupied territory to go deep into the West Bank, taking in acres of Palestinian land, and sometimes separating villagers from their own fields, groves and farms.
The film depicts one village’s protest against this expropriation in 2003 and 2004 by a coalition that included members of Fatah and Hamas, as well as Israeli Jews and international supporters. Due to their protests, the route of the barrier around Budrus was eventually changed to hew closer to the pre-1967 borders.”
The film documents the actions of Ayed Morrar, a Palestinian community organizer, as he unites Palestinian political factions along with Israeli supporters to stop the destruction of his village. Morrar’s fifteen year old daughter, Iltezam, proves to be instrumental in this effort by launching a women’s contingent to the nonviolent protest.
Produced and directed by Julia Bacha through Just Vision, a nonprofit media organization focusing on nonviolent solutions to the Palestinian crisis, Budrus has helped awaken the world’s interest in the peace process. Ms Bacha says, “We are providing alternative role models in a complex and changing world. I have seen people challenged, inspired and motivated to take action based on the stories we tell."
Frost Over the World had an interesting interview with Julia Bacha last year:
Today, tensions could not be higher in the Middle East with The Arab Spring changing the socio-political landscape of the region. The Israel-Palestinian peace process appears to be stalled, highlighted by last week’s resignation of George Mitchell as U.S. Mideast Envoy. Furthermore, the recent violence surrounding demonstrations marking the anniversary of Nakba Day has increased the tension level. “Nakba”, an Arab word meaning “catastrophe,” is used by Palestinians to describe the May 15, 1948 establishment of the State of Israel and the resultant displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. As Juan Cole points out in his article entitled “The Arab Spring comes to Israel:”
”What was driving the Palestinian protests is desperation and a state of statelessness, of being in limbo, of having no rights, no property, no prospects, living within sight of their former home, gazing at it from foreign countries that happen also to speak Arabic but which treat them as aliens or (as in Jordan) second-class citizens.”
Bacha's film has provided a welcome awakening to those who have lost faith in the Mideast peace process. Unfortunately, however, Budrus is just a small island of hope in a vast sea of uncertainty.