Written and Directed by Julia Bacha.
Starring Ayed Morrar, Iltezam Morrar, Kobi Snitz, Ahmed Awwad, Yasmine Levy and Doron Spielman.
A documentary depicting the non-violent demonstrations by resident of Budrus against the building of the Israeli West Bank barrier inside of their village.
Walls aren’t always great. Take the Berlin wall for example. It divided a country into two opposing sides. When used like this, all a wall does is to show how opposed to each other each side of the wall is. A literal metaphor, if you’re so inclined. But what about the people who aren’t on either side, but just happen to be caught in the wall’s path of bricks and segregation? Julia Bacha’s recent documentary on the Palestinian town of Budrus (entitled “Budrus”, funnily enough) gives an insight into what happens when the bulldozers come rolling up. In 2000, the village of Budrus would have been divided and surrounded by the building of the Israeli West Bank barrier, resulting in the loss of hundreds of acres of land as well as thousands of olive trees, both part of their culture and their economy.
Budrus focuses on Ayed Morrar, a father of four who is also the leader of the non-violent movement in Budrus. He has been to prison four times for his protest work with Fatah, a Palestinian political party. “We don’t have time for wars”, says Ayed. This line pretty much some up the nature of the film, as the group of people he leads area strict in their non-violent approach. The documentary shows Ayed giving a speech in a village community hall, which whilst not very dramatic, is one of the honest thing’s I’ve seen. Bacha is showing us a man who doesn’t ooze charisma in the most obvious fashion, but his passion for what he believes is not too subtle that it is totally missed.
We’re also shown interviews with Ayed’s daughter, Iltezam Morrar, who convinces Ayed to allow women to take part in the demonstrations. Iltezam shows a more youthful confidence than Ayed and the rest of the villages women seem more than happy to muck in. Some of the scenes of the women demonstrators chanting against the armed police are heart-warming in a weird way. Shots of them smiling and laughing make it seem like they have no fear and are more than happy to be there, which draws up parallels’ to some of the demonstrations we’ve had over here lately. Even when the police start firing rubber bullets at the crowd, they show no pain and often get up instantly and shout back. Those have to be the strongest women I’ve ever seen.
As well as showing the side of the protesters, two members of the Israel Border Police are interviewed. Whilst they try to make things as calm as they can, they are in severe doubt about the protests working. At some places in the film, we see the police fight back in a way that seems totally robotic, as if they are taking no side in the fight, but to suppress everything. As the film progresses the situation builds up until the police start opening fire at various parts of Budrus. At this point, the documentary takes a turn from being optimistic to showing just how bad a demonstration can go.
Bacha starts by painting a beautiful picture of a village blessed with community and flora before diving in deeper into the people that are trying to keep the village away from drastic change. But it’s not all about resilience against an armed force; the villagers of Budrus are surprised when they come face to face with native Isreali’s helping to fight their cause. These people where their sworn enemy before, and now they have no choice but to fight alongside each other. Whilst it’s a slow moving documentary to begin with, the last half really shines and provides a concise insight to how effective non-violent protest can be.
Will Preston is a student at the University of Portsmouth. He writes for various blogs (including his own website), presents a weekly radio show on PURE FM and makes various short films.
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