"Budrus" film captures peaceful change in Middle East

Sun Oct 10, 2010 1:21pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sometimes, a little peace goes a long way. Indians, led by Mohandas Gandhi, found out. African American followers of Martin Luther King, Jr. learned too.

So did a village of Palestinians and their Israeli counterparts from a reluctant hero, family man and his 15-year-old daughter. Their little-known story is documented in a new film "Budrus," whose makers hope will spread a message that peace can bring change, even in a war-torn land.

As Palestinians and Israelis attempt to restart peace talks, "Budrus," which opened in New York over the weekend and spreads around the United States in coming weeks, takes on greater meaning.

The documentary film shows the father and daughter duo leading a throng of Palestinian villagers, notably joined by some Israeli supporters, in a nonviolent crusade to protect their agricultural village, Budrus, from a barrier being built to separate the two ethnic groups inside the West Bank.

Budrus is 31-kilometers from Ramalla in the northern West Bank, and the film shows villagers peacefully protesting Israeli bulldozers even as the machines uproot olive trees -- and their Palestinian culture -- in 2003, when they campaigned for 10 straight months to reroute the barrier.

"It's a small story, it's a small village," said director Julia Bacha. "But there are many lessons to be learned from what happened there and many of the things that they did in this community can be applied broadly."

To retell the story in a compelling fashion, Bacha gathered footage taken by protesters and villagers after the events and coupled it with fresh interviews of major players from both the village and the Israeli army.

"We wanted to put the faces of both sides of that struggle in the consciousness of people," she said. "Budrus felt like a microcosm to look at 'what are the dynamics that take place when this community decides to use nonviolent strategies to resist'," she said.   Continued...