If you're looking for a primer on the tensions between the state of Israel and the refugee families it displaced, Little Town of Bethlehem (EthnoGraphic Media) won't do the job. But if you want to glimpse the conflict's human face and the way it affects both those who live under occupation and the soldiers who serve as enforcers, by all means, watch this movie.
The film follows the intertwined stories of three peace activists: Palestinian Christian Sami Awad, Palestinian Muslim Ahmad Al-Azzeh, and Israeli Defense Force helicopter pilot Yonatan Shapira. All three have moved from fear and bitterness to confidence that nonviolent action will lead to a just peace. The storytelling is nonlinear and impressionistic as the film explores these intersecting lives through interviews, reenactments, archival footage, and animation.
Little Town of Bethlehem was produced by Mart Green and written and directed by Jim Hanon, who previously collaborated on End of the Spear and Miss HIV. The production values and artistic sensibilities are remarkably strong for a documentary about one of the most neuralgic situations on the globe. This makes a painful story a pleasure to watch.
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