Promises (2001)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5

USA, 2001.  Promises Film Project.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by , .  Produced by B.Z. Goldberg, Justine Shapiro.  Film Editing by Carlos Bolado.  

A positively stunning achievement in documentary film, this inspirational movie has directors Justine Shapiro and B.Z. Goldberg film seven Israeli children, Arabs and Jews alike, and interview them about their perspectives on the conflict between their two cultures. The children, all of whom live within a half hour drive of each other, have a variety of opinions that include extreme intolerance and a desire for vengeance upon their opposing sides in a few cases, and a more even-keeled, tolerant desire to get to know their “enemies” from some others (the two kids who are the most objective about the matter being, of course, the ones who aren’t religious). Goldberg gets terrific footage from these highly charismatic film subjects, and lets their most powerful moments speak for themselves: even though the kids spend most of the movie spouting ideas about history and birthrights and everything else that’s been taught to them by their elders, the first time that both an Arab and Jewish child meet on screen results in a burping contest. When two of the children ask to be taken to a Palestinian camp to meet a boy they’d spoken to on the phone, the result is absolutely one of the most moving sequences you’ll have the privilege to see. An immense achievement, and one of the artform’s most powerful appeals for peace ever produced.

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Documentary Feature

Toronto International Film Festival:  2001

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