Julia Bacha and Justvision’s “Budrus” was screened last night at the Jerusalem Cinematheque, and will be screened again on Tuesday night, I believe. I went to see the film and to see the people who would come out to see the film. “Budrus” has toured the festival circuit (winning important prizes) and is now entering into wider release worldwide (in Israel it will be only shown in cinematheques, which is a pity.)
If you care at all about what is going on in Israel and Palestine, you must see this film. And then support those Palestinian villagers and Israeli and international activists who stand united against oppression.
“Budrus” tells the story of the successful, unarmed struggle of the Palestinian village Budrus against the Israeli Separation Barrier – successful, because the wall’s route was moved. Bacha accessed a lot of footage of the demonstrations taken by Palestinian and Jewish activists, and then went in and interviewed some of the main players, including the leader of the struggle, Ayed Morrer, as well as Yasmine Levy, a Border Police Captain, and Doron Spielman, an IDF spokesperson. The finished product is a moving film, with an uplifting, if bittersweet, ending. For Budrus’ success has not been repeated so far in other places.
The audience in Jerusalem last night was composed of the usual mix of Israelis and foreigners, very young and (ahem) middle-aged and above. At the Q and A after the screening, Rula Salameh, a Palestinian journalist and co-producer, told of the impact of the film in the Palestinian territories. Last week it was screened in Gaza (for a report of this showing see Jared Malsin’s post here). It has been screened in Ramallah, in Wallajeh, and in other places in the Territories.
The message of the film is clear: According to Salameh, Budrus succeeded because a) the whole village was involved, including women; b) Hamas and Fatah representatives were united; c) Israeli and foreign nationals lent support to the Palestinian struggle, standing side by side by them; d) the demonstrations were not limited to a few hours a day. I would add that Budrus succeeded because it was the first, or one of the first, and caught Israel off-guard. The hope of the producers is that Budrus will set an example, and more and more people will become involved.
I noticed that the film gave voice to those who preferred nonviolent struggle over unarmed struggle, but one of the titles in the film implicitly conceded that the barrier route was changed after months of unarmed struggle. (“Unarmed” allows the throwing of rocks.)
The demonstrations usually start out as nonviolent but, if necessary, switch to unarmed protest as a defensive measure against the IDF’s violent measures to disperse the population. (This is a large topic; my own view is that hurling rocks is morally justified in a situation when there is a threat to your person by an occupying army who wishes to disperse violently a demonstration; the decision to hurl rocks then becomes a tactical and not a moral one. But this issue was not discussed in the film.)
There are lots of good movies to see about Israel Palestine, but Budrus is special and should be a high priority on your list. If you agree with the message, you should also considering support groups that are active in the struggle (the film ends with a long list of them, but I would mention specifically, in this regard, the Anarchists Against the Wall)