This inspiring docu stresses peaceful resistance as the best means of conflict resolution.

A small agricultural village on the West Bank, Budrus made headlines in 2003 when residents decided to challenge — through nonviolent means — the Israeli separation barrier slated to expropriate their land. U.S.-based multihyphenate Julia Bacha (“Encounter Point”) provides a poignant chronicle of their long campaign. Mixing footage of villagers in their beloved olive fields, facing down Israeli soldiers, and interviews with key players, this inspiring docu stresses peaceful resistance as the best means of conflict resolution. A prime teaching tool, “Budrus” should see extended fest and special engagement play before segueing to broadcast and ancillary.

Pic’s central figure is Ayed Morrar, a community organizer par excellence. He sought popular participation from all Palestinian political parties and organizations, as well as from international and Israeli activists.

Morrar’s articulate teen daughter Iltezam proves to be cut from the same cloth as she rallies local females to the cause. Shown in their element on the frontlines, the women confidently chant slogans as they try to block soldiers’ access to the fields, even courageously jumping into the very holes the bulldozers are digging.

It is heartening to hear the Palestinians express appreciation for the Jewish protesters who cross over from Israel to join them in solidarity. Even Iltezam Morrar concedes, “I now know not all Israelis are the same.”

As the demonstrations continue and grow, the frustrated soldiers increase their use of force against the protesters, moving from batons and tear gas to live ammunition. When a curfew is imposed on Budrus, the provocation of stone-throwing youths threatens to transform the peaceful resistance movement into what could be considered an armed response.

Bacha aims to be evenhanded, including voices from the Israeli border patrol and army. But the complaint that the planned route of the wall goes well outside current Israeli borders finds no rational response from the government. Capt. Doron Spielman agrees that the villagers have a justified grievance, yet he dismisses it, commenting, “It’s unfortunate for the people of Budrus, but less unfortunate than the death of an Israeli citizen.”

Bacha and fellow editor Geeta Gandbhir dynamically blend footage from multiple sources, but strangely, the pic fails to provide a sense of chronology. End credits reveal that there were 55 demonstrations, but it?s unclear how much time passed from the first to the last, or when exactly they took place. Also missing is a sense of how everyday life in the village was disrupted by such active participation in the protests. But these are small criticisms when compared to the pic’s useful analysis of what constitutes model conflict resistance.

A strong string, wind and percussion score by Kareem Roustom adds to the momentum and underlines key moments.



A Just Vision production with the support of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program. (International sales: Just Vision, Washington, D.C.) Produced by Ronit Avni, Julia Bacha, Rula Salameh. Executive producers, Avni, Jehane Noujaim. Co-producers, Sandi Dubowski, Darius Fisher, Sigal Rosh. Directed, written by Julia Bacha.


Camera (color, DigiBeta), Shai Pollack, Monalisa Sundbom, Jonathan Mossey, Bacha, Riyad Deis, Mohammad Fawzi; editors, Geeta Gandbhir, Bacha; music, Kareem Roustom; sound, Scott Freiman. Reviewed at Dubai Film Festival (Cultural Bridge Gala), Dec. 13, 2009. Running time: 78 MIN. (Arabic, Hebrew, English dialogue)
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