Award Winning Documentary
Dir. Juliano Mer Khamis
Israel, 2004, 84mins
Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles
Arna Mer (1929-1995) led in the last years of her life a small theatre group of Palestinian children on the West Bank. Her son Juliano, who directed the group, used all those years his camera to film the rehearsals and performances of the plays. Arna Mer was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, an alternative Nobel Prize. Juliano Mer Khamis is the son of the Jewish Arna and an Arab father.
A few of the children in the theatre group are Yussef, Ashraf and A’lla. Through playing they try to cope with their memories of the refugee camp and daily reality. Arna plays an important role in the Jenin community through her dedication to the children. When the Israeli armies occupy the city, the theatre group rehearsals come to an end. But Arna won’t take it lying down. She establishes an alternative educational system to replace the formal one that was practically paralysed by the Israeli occupation.
After the death of his mother and years after the theatre has closed, Juliano looks up ‘Arna’s children’. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has escalated again and bloody bomb attacks are the order of the day. The building that once accommodated the theatre, has been bombed. Juliano himself in the meanwhile has become a famous actor and theatre director in Israel. Back in Jenin he discovers little by little the tragic story of the theatre children who were so dear to him: Ashraf was killed in the battle of Jenin by the Israeli army, Yussef committed a suicide attack in Hadera. A’lla leads a fighting troupe when Juliano meets him.
You can find a review of the film here.
Here is a Youtube clip of the documentary: