Saturday, October 30, 2010

BUDRUS - Movie Review

Behind the political rhetoric and media distortion, is a story about a people, their right to use their land to survive and their intrinsic connection to this land. Budrus tells this story while steering away from directly conveying the political narrative.The movie is gripping in a way that appeals to fundamental human emotions of compassion, empathy and justice.

Directed by the award winning filmmaker Julia Bacha,the documentary follows Ayyed Morrar in his attempt to lead a non-violent resistance against the construction of the separation barrier through his Palestinian village of Budrus. Bacha says that a decision was taken to focus on the villagers and their story, avoiding the broader political context. This is perhaps where the authenticity of the story lies. Through interviews with villagers and footage of their protracted resistance towards the construction of the wall, a personal connection with the audience is formed. The civilian statistics become real and the actual impact of the construction of the wall is contextualised.

A focal point is 'The Olive Tree' - the Palestinian people's connection to it, the life-source that it represents and the impunity with which the Israeli Defence Force uproots these. I recalled scenes from Avatar, where the Na'vi people feel like they have lost a family member when their precious trees are uprooted. The tragedy in the Palestinian scenario, though, is that it is real, not fiction and that it is ongoing. After the olive trees have been uprooted to make way for the wall, a farmer with innocent disbelief and morbid concern tries to explain to an Israeli soldier that he does not know what to do as his trees will now die. Never before was the simple yet intense relationship between the Palestinian people and their land been conveyed to me as powerfully.

While Budrus does not promise to tell 'both sides of the story', it gives a voice to Yasmine Levy, the IDF squad commander in the border police sent to Budrus.
A spokesperson for the Israeli army Doron Spielman gives the Israeli justification for constructing the wall.The interaction between the military and civilians is poignant when viewed through live footage.

The issue of non-violent resistance was a deliberate choice by Bacha (who is also a historian). She says that her studies have shown that violent resistance movements in history had always transformed into dictatorships.

The movie had been well received by international audiences, winning numerous awards at a various film festivals. Budrus is scheduled for screening around the United states and The United Kingdom over the next few months.