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Tribeca Talks®: Budrus

A North American film premiere and panel with director, producers, and stars of the documentary all the way from Palestine, moderated by Amanda Palmer, Executive Director of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival.



If you have any hope for peace between Israel and Palestine, then run, don't walk to catch Budrus. The award-winning feature documentary film had its North American premiere this past Sunday at Tribeca in front of a riveted audience, which included legendary documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, a slew of peace activists, foreign policy wonks, educational non-profiteers, and film fans.
Budrus chronicles the experience of Ayed Morrar, a Palestinian community organizer who, despite having been tortured in jail and having a family to feed, drops everything to lead a non-violent peace demonstration. His small town Budrus depends on the very olive trees the Israeli Army is uprooting. Thus, his mission is to stop the Israel Army from moving beyond the wall into Palestinian-declared land.
While he may look like an ordinary, affectionate, middle-aged family man, Morrar is a strong and compassionate visionary who manages to do what no politician has ever achieved. Morrar unites local Fatah and Hamas members, Palestinian men and women, Jewish Israelis and international peace activists in an unarmed, nonviolent, 9-month demonstration to save the village of Budrus.
The journey isn't easy, but his patience helps. Morrar finds allies, including his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, who proposes adding a women’s contingent to the protest to beef up support. Morrar agrees, and their demonstration evolves into a movement that has inspired over a dozen other Palestinian villages. Today, Morrar joins other villages, including Bil’in, Nabi Saleh, and Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, in staging non-violence demonstrations and negotiations.
Budrus is the first film of its ilk to look at the conflicts within the Palestinian and Israeli communities, instead of solely examining the struggles between Israeli Jews and Arabs. The result is a complex, dynamic, and hopeful portrait. Budrus also reveals the tangible steps necessary for individual citizens to apply if they plan to move forward.
The filmmakers also give voice to those who opposed the demonstrations. An Israeli military spokesman, Doron Spielman, and Yasmine Levy, the Israeli border police captain stationed in Budrus at that time, speak honestly about their positions and security concerns throughout the film. As a result, the film feels like as authentic a depiction as is possible on such a polarizing subject. It's understandable that Budrus has already received critical success, including the Panorama Audience Award, Second Prize, at the Berlin International Film Festival.
After the film, the crowd spontaneously gave a standing ovation and erupted into applause again when the whip-smart moderator Amanda Palmer, Executive Director of Doha Tribeca Film Festival, brought up the documentary filmmaking team and Morrar and his daughter to talk about the film. Palmer also explained that Tribeca was a bit of a reunion for the team behind Budrus. Director/producer/editor Julia Bacha (Control Room) and executive producer Ronit Avni's initial collaboration, Encounter Point, which the duo co-directed, had its North American premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2006. Avni is also the executive director of the not-for-profit organization Just Vision, which will include Budrus as part of its innovative educational outreach campaign. The Palestinian journalist Rula Salameh, Sandi Simcha Dubowski (Trembling Before G-d), Jehane Noujaim (Control Room), and Geeta Gandbhir (HBO's When The Levees Broke) were integral to the film. Onscreen and off, the formidable production included a thoroughly integrated, diverse group of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Canadians, South Americans, and US citizens.
The enthusiasm for the film was infectious, and the crowd lingered to speak with the filmmakers and Morrar. Bacha was thrilled to meet Moore, who praised Budrus, calling it "a powerful film filled with the kind of hope you rarely see around this issue."


Find out when and where you can catch Budrus at the Tribeca Film Festival.


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