Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Little Town of Bethlehem" DVD - Review

Little Town of Bethlehem shares true stories of hope in the midst of violence

ltob coverOklahoma City, OK Filmed on location in the West Bank, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem, Little Town of Bethlehem brings awareness to a growing nonviolent movement in the Middle East that rarely, if ever, makes international headlines.

Sami Awad is a Palestinian Christian whose grandfather was killed in Jerusalem in 1948. Today he is the executive director of Holy Land Trust, a non-profit organization that promotes Palestinian independence through peaceful means. Yonatan Shapira is an Israeli Jew whose grandparents were Zionist settlers who witnessed the birth of the Israeli nation. Today he is an outspoken advocate for the nonviolent peace movement, both in his homeland and abroad. Ahmad Al'Azzeh is a Palestinian Muslim who has lived his entire life in the Azzeh refugee camp in Bethlehem. Today, Ahmad heads the nonviolence program at Holy Land Trust, where he trains others in the methods of peaceful activism.

Little Town of Bethlehem honestly and respectfully shares Sami’s, Yonatan’s, and Ahmad’s stories. With all three men referencing both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi during individual interviews, it is clear that their words, thoughts, and actions on nonviolence are still profoundly impacting today’s nonviolent movement. The images of these three men standing firm in the face of overwhelming opposition are inspirational, but Little Town of Bethlehem is not just about inspiring viewers. The filmmakers also raise the question, “Can the cycle of violence be broken?”

Like all EGM films, Little Town of Bethlehem was created with a global youth audience in mind. But this film will connect with any viewer who desires a deeper understanding of conflict resolution. “The major themes in the film are universal and timeless. The desire to end violence through nonviolence is not a demographic phenomenon, though often it is youth that mobilize. The theme of this film is appropriate for anyone who deals with conflict. This hopeful message of equality is for all,” says Jim Hanon, chief creative officer at EGM and the film’s director. “Little Town of Bethlehem doesn’t focus on who’s right or who’s wrong. The focus is on three men from different places and with different backgrounds who struggle together toward this common goal through nonviolence. We feel that the nonviolent approach promoted by the film is a humanitarian message with the power to transcend religions, nations, politics, languages, and cultures.”

Follow EGM on Twitter @EGMfilms.

My Thoughts:

This was an amazing film that follows three men and their desire to have peace. These stories are fascinating, yet at the same time absolutely heartbreaking. I had no idea that being a pacifist could be so dangerous. These men share their most intimate thoughts and feelings, their families, their homes and their lives. Their desire is to have a place to bring up their children where there is peace and not the strife that there is now. Small things we take for granted, like traveling on certain roads, basic health care, having a baby at a safe hospital... are not for these men.

I found myself very involved with wanted these men to obtain their wish, especially those with children. I was shocked with much that I had seen, and I thought myself to be quite "up to date" on things. My heart goes out to those families (like the one in the film) that cannot get the necessary medical treatment for their child - all because of a "pass" to allow them to cross the border.

This is a must see movie for everyone!

One note - I did find the music a bit annoying in the beginning and had a hard time focusing on the discussion. It was too loud for my liking, but after a few minutes it either became softer or I just got so involved in the movie that I didn't pay any attention to it.

This DVD was provided by B&B Media for me to honestly review.

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