Kathleen O' Donnell / Uncategorized

Film Review: Budrus (Griffin Jackson)

An eye-opening, heart-wrenching journey across ten months in a small Palestinian village called Budrus leaves viewers inspired, angered and cheering. The true story of a tiny town at the edge of the West Bank, Budrusfollows several individuals, each tied to the construction of the Israeli security barrier through Palestinian territory.

The documentary’s plot revolves around the town and its inhabitants, shining light on peace-building, women’s roles, unity among Palestinian factions and Israeli presence in the West Bank. In 2010, the film was a winner at eight international film festivals, including at Tribeca and the Jerusalem International Film Festival. Since its release, Budrus has received high praise and continues to show screenings worldwide.

In the film, Budrus, like dozens of other Palestinian towns, rubs dangerously close to the green line dividing Israel and Palestine, and when Israel began to build a wall to firm up the division, significant portions of the partition stray from the green line and onto Palestinian land. The wall was planned to encircle Budrus and cut it off from 3,000 olive trees by which many of the 1,500 Budrus residents make their living, and which are dearly associated with their history and traditions. Many of the olive trees were given the names of the town’s mothers.

Ayed Morrar is the primary figure. He is the leader of nonviolent protests against the wall’s construction through Budrus. Originally a member of Fatah, Morrar was jailed on five separate occasions by the Israeli army for his resistance, alienating him from his own children and town. Despite his struggles, he took up the cause of nonviolence in resisting those who threaten his land and the land of his fathers.

Iltezam Morrar, Ayed’s teenage daughter, is also followed as she inspires a women’s movement to work together with their brothers, sons and fathers. Along with other women from Budrus, she leads powerful, nonviolent protests, hindering the wall’s construction and the destruction of Budrus’ olive groves.

Other key figures include Yasmine Levy, a female soldier in the Israeli army and a commander in Israel’s Border Patrol who encounters first-hand Budrus’ peaceful resistance. Doron Spielman, a spokesperson for the Israeli army, provides a case in defense of the wall’s construction, largely brushing off the protests. And Kobi Snitz is an Israeli activist who sides with the Palestinians and, like many other foreigners, stands alongside Budrus in its protest.

Budrus is a human story of courage and persistence. It clearly has a pro-Palestinian bent, but attempts to bring in perspectives from both sides of the issue. Audiences will see the struggles of a people oppressed, the difficulties of carrying out and maintaining peaceful protest and the long-lasting conflict that continues to mar Israeli-Palestinian relations in the Middle East and around the world.

This film is an ideal fit for any college campus concerned with current issues. It is especially apt for Middle East clubs or campus organizations focused on peace, social justice or interfaith dialogue.

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