Tonight’s film is the 2012 Peabody Award winning film My Neighbourhood, the latest production by Just Vision, a team of Palestinian, Israeli, North and South American filmmakers, journalists, and human rights advocates dedicated to telling the stories of Israelis and Palestinians working nonviolently to achieve freedom, dignity, security and peace in the region. Our guest tonight is Just Vision’s Creative Director Julia Bacha, who co-directed My Neighbourhood together with independent filmmaker Rebekah Wingert-Jabi.
Eleven-year old Mohammed El Kurd lives with his family in a home they have owned since 1956, when the United Nations provided residences for Palestinian refugees in East Jerusalem. In 2009 their neighborhood, Sheikh Jarrah, became one of many claimed by Israeli settlers, who using the Israeli court system began a systematic eviction of Palestinians from their homes. The settlers feel it is their right, both religiously and legally to occupy East Jerusalem, and one day Mohammed comes home from school to find half his home taken over by Israeli settlers and his grandmother in the hospital.
As tensions mount, Mohammed and his neighbors begin a series of peaceful demonstrations, and much to their surprise are joined by Israeli activists from West Jerusalem, including Zvi Benninga and his sister Sara. The Benninga siblings are soon joined by their parents on the protest lines. Their father, the child of Holocaust survivors, cringes at his children being arrested, but he understands the need for righteous people to stand up to their government when the government is wrong.
Shot over two years, My Neighborhood follows Mohammed’s story as he comes of age in the midst of unrelenting tension and remarkable cooperation in his backyard. Highlighting Mohammed’s own reactions to the highly volatile situation, reflections from family members and other evicted residents, accounts of Israeli protesters and interviews with Israeli settlers, My Neighborhood chronicles the resolve of a neighborhood and the support it receives from the most unexpected of places.
Most importantly, My Neighbourhood shows the importance of both sides working together to create a shared city, and to bring peace to one of the world’s most volatile regions.
Watch – My Neighbourhood