2009, Movies

Budrus (2009, Julia Bach)

This should be an inspiring documentary a village banding together to stop an oppressive foreign government from building a wall through their land. I say “should” because between when this film was released and when I watched it, 8 years later, the Israeli government did indeed succeed in building the wall around Budrus, though maybe not as completely as they were initially intending to. So now it serves as a time-capsule rather than a film that lets you see David triumph over Goliath.

When the wall was being built, six villages in the West Bank realized that they would essentially be surrounded by it, with villagers cut off from the land that they owned. They decided to protest and block the construction. Eventually their protests got attention both within the region (Hamas showed up and the Israeli media covered it) and internationally. Eventually Israelis sympathetic to the cause (as the wall was not being built along the border, the so-called Green Line, but rather through Palestine) also joined them. What this films captures is the temporary success these protesters had in delaying the wall and even the disillusionment some of the Israeli military began to feel as they tried to build the wall. If you don’t know what happened since, and don’t look it up, the story is inspiring, about how non-violent protest can change the world.

Alas, that’s not what happened. The wall exists, as we all know. As far as I can tell, without doing a lot of research, the villagers might have altered its course slightly, but their lives are still greatly inconvenienced by its presence.

We can debate about whether or not the wall is acceptable as a means of preventing Israeli deaths. (I am on the side that it is not a solution to this problem, for the record.) But I think the value of the film is both that it documents a particular moment in time between than a news clip would (I barely remember them) and that it shows real live proof that non-violent protest is compelling and why. The scene with the women in the pit in front of the crane is a great example; what is that crane operator going to do, dig them up too? Also, it’s a reminder that this situation still exists, albeit in different form, yet we often don’t here about it.

So if you’re interested in the history of protests, or of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it’s worth your time. It is out of date, though.


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