September 2013
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Media Release

August 27, 2013


What: Witness Palestine Film Series (second annual)
When: September 8 to 23, 2013
Where: Little Theatre, 240 East Avenue, Rochester NY 14607

(September 23rd at St. John Fisher College, Basil Hall 135, Rochester NY 14618, map, pdf)

Contact: (585)-271-2885

About the Witness Palestine Film Series

The Witness Palestine Film Series grew from the experiences of individuals in the Rochester area who traveled to the Middle East and were moved by what they saw and heard. The films being screened this year were selected from 50 documentaries and narrative films. These are compelling films which illustrate the realities on the ground in both the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel. A group of diverse panelists, most with firsthand experience of the conflict, will lead discussions after each screening.

Witness Palestine Film Series – schedule for 2013

  • Sunday, September 8: 5 Broken Cameras [2012 Academy Award Nominee]
  • Monday, September 9: The Law in These Parts
  • Sunday, September 15: Jerusalem: The East Side Story and Follow the Money
  • Monday, September 16: The People and the Olive
  • Sunday, September 22: Two-Sided Story
  • Monday, September 23: Going Against the Grain [at St. John Fisher College]

More about the films

5 Broken Cameras – Sunday, September 8 at 2:00 p.m.

This documentary is a deeply personal, first-hand account of life and non-violent resistance in Bil'in, a West Bank village located next to Israeli settlements (Google map). Filmed by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, Gibreel.

Structured in chapters around the destruction of each one of Burnat's 5 cameras, the filmmakers' collaboration follows one family's evolution over five years of village upheaval. As the years pass in front of the camera, we witness Gibreel grow from a newborn baby into a young boy who observes the world unfolding around him with the astute powers of perception that only children possess. Burnat watches from behind the lens as olive trees are bulldozed, protests intensify, and lives are lost in this cinematic diary and unparalleled record of life in the West Bank.

The Law in These Parts – Monday, September 9 at 6:45 p.m.

What is legal and what is just? The wide gap between the two is explored meticulously by this Israeli investigation of the legal structure created after the 1967 Six Days War, specifically to treat the West Bank and Gaza Strip as occupied territories.

Speaking with some of Israel's most respected lawyers and judges – men who helped to craft and later interpret these laws – filmmaker Ra'anan Alexandrowicz asks tough, pointed questions and gets even tougher answers. He asks his subjects to consider the consequences of their actions in a highly politicized environment. This documentary takes the position that unjust laws create unjust realities. Laws that everyone admits are not perfect but are the best that can be done under difficult circumstances may result in tragedy for everyone: both the judges and the judged.

Jerusalem … The East Side Story (short, with the film below) – Sunday, September 15 at 2:00 p.m.

This film wrestles with the question of land-vs-people as it reveals the policies that aim to Judaize the city and control Palestinian demographic growth. The resulting collective punishment is part of a larger scheme to pressure Palestinians into submission or flight.

The intention is to bring the Palestinian struggle for freedom and independence to light. Director Mohammed Alatar hopes and prays that people will realize today's bitter reality in Jerusalem and do what it takes to bring peace to this troubled city.

Follow the Money (short, with the film above) – Sunday, September 15 at 2:00 p.m.

This Australian broadcast report unpacks the question of boycotts. Listen to different sides of the issue as the reporter interviews Palestinian activist Cairo Arafat, Sodastream CEO Daniel Birnbaum, and others.

Hear from Knesset member Alex Miller about an Israeli law which bans Israelis from supporting any boycotts, and then to Knesset member Ahmad Tibi who openly challenges the same law by supporting a boycott of products made in West Bank settlements.

The People and the Olive – Monday, September 16 at 6:45 p.m.

This film focuses on "The Run Across Palestine," which in February 2012 highlighted farm conditions. Six Americans ran 129 miles in five days across the West Bank in order to raise awareness about the struggles of Palestinian fair trade olive farmers and to replant uprooted olive trees.

Two Sided Story – Sunday, September 22 at 2:00 p.m.

… shows an encounter group among bereaved families: Arab and Jewish. Outside the room, participants may be considered enemies. Inside the room, participants are asked to not try to convince each other and to offer an insight into their inner world.

Going Against the Grain – Monday, September 23, at 12:30 p.m., St. John Fisher College

Writer and journalist Gideon Levy is a reporter for Haaretz, a large Israeli newspaper. He has made weekly visits, over the past three decades, to the occupied Palestinian territories, describing what he sees – plainly and without propaganda.


The Witness Palestine Film Series is sponsored by Christians Witnessing for Palestine. The organizing committee includes activists involved in interfaith dialogue and international solidarity work as well as local filmmakers.

More information

Tickets: $8 from The Little box office

September 23 at St. John Fisher College: free, no tickets required

For more info on the Witness Palestine Film Series, please visit Witness Palestine (Rochester) on Facebook