Courtesy of Intuitive Pictures
JUNE 25TH, 2015 | BY JUST VISION
It’s 1987 and the Israeli army is in hot pursuit of eighteen dairy cows in the town of Beit Sahour, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The cows are declared a threat to Israel’s national security after a group of Palestinians begin producing milk for the town’s residents. The Israeli soldiers find themselves in a game of cat-and-mouse as residents of the town work together to shuttle the cows from barn to barn. The fugitive cows of Beit Sahour become legendary and the “intifada milk,” often distributed under cover of night, is a statement of self-reliance that provides their community with alternatives to replace Israeli goods.
For many in the United States, the words “first Palestinian intifada” conjure up images of stone-throwing youth, burning tires, and violent clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli military. Yet the crucial broader context of that uprising—a mass mobilization of tens of thousands of Palestinian women and men in a sustained unarmed civil disobedience campaign aimed at ending Israel’s occupation—is often overlooked or misunderstood. The intifada and the widespread strikes, sit-ins, marches, boycotts, and other nonviolent strategies represent a defining moment in the history of Palestinian struggle for self-determination.
This month audiences across the country will have the opportunity to learn about this important era when a gripping new documentary, The Wanted 18, is released across the U.S. Directed by Palestinian artist Amer Shomali and veteran Canadian filmmaker Paul Cowan, the film opened in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on June 19th with a special slate of Q&As and panel discussions throughout opening weekend. Since then, the New York theatrical run has been extended through July 2nd and other cities are being announced. The entertaining and thought-provoking film combines stop-motion animation and interview footage to tell this remarkable story of Palestinian nonviolent resistance during the First Intifada.
As a new generation seeks the best way to end the occupation and achieve freedom and dignity, it is essential that the strategies and lessons of the time be surfaced in coordination with today’s rising leaders—both locally and internationally—in a powerful and accessible way.
The film’s clever reliance on an accessible and humorous story to illuminate neglected aspects of one of the most consequential periods in the history of Israeli-Palestinian relations resonated deeply with our team at Just Vision. For over ten years, our team of filmmakers, communications strategists, and human rights advocates has sought to challenge conventional narratives about the context by telling the story of Palestinians and Israelis working nonviolently to end the occupation and build a future of freedom, dignity and equality for all. To this end, we’ve created award-winning documentary films and launched accompanying engagement campaigns that have brought our films to tens of thousands of audience members at a wide variety of venues worldwide: from Capitol Hill and the European Parliament to Palestinian villages and refugee camps. A media audit conducted by the public relations firm Edelman concluded that our film Budrus successfully and positively shifted the way English-language press covered the nonviolent resistance in the Palestinian village, and behavioral studies conducted by MIT neuroscientists have shown that American viewers’ attitudes towards the Palestinian struggle for freedom are markedly improved after exposure to our work.
Building on this impact, we are now excited to be partnering with the creators of The Wanted 18 to ensure that the film’s unique approach can spark necessary conversations about Palestinian-led nonviolence here in the US. Alongside the theatrical release, we’re encouraging communities across the country to bring the film to their local theaters by using the “theatrical-on-demand” platform Gathr. Finally, we will be organizing targeted screenings to inform thought-leaders, policymakers and journalists about the shortcomings of mainstream coverage of the First intifada and launching a campus tour this fall.
As a new generation seeks the best way to end the occupation and achieve freedom and dignity, it is essential that the strategies and lessons of the time be surfaced in coordination with today’s rising leaders—both locally and internationally—in a powerful and accessible way. We’re excited to introduce American audiences to this important new film, and hope these screenings can serve as a launching point for a series of conversations ensuring that the legacy and lessons from the past—both success models and cautionary tales—can be used to sustain and inspire activism, encourage strategic decision-making and generate support both in the region and abroad.
Just Vision is a member of NAMAC