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Promises (2002) (trailer)

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Promises presents a powerful portrait of seven Palestinian and Israeli children who live in and around Jerusalem. As filmmaker B.Z. Goldberg, who was raised in Israel, notes, “They live no more than 20 minutes from each other, but they are each growing up in very separate worlds.” The children include Mahmoud, Shlomo, Sanabel, Faraj, Moishe, and twins Yarko and Daniel.

With the exception of the latter, all are religious (the twins are the grandchildren of a Holocaust survivor). Most have strong political beliefs and have seen their share of tragedy–Faraj’s friend was killed in front of him–but as the film makes clear, they’re also kids.

They like to watch TV, hold burping contests, and compete in sports (Faraj is a runner, Yarko and Daniel play volleyball). Promises doesn’t attempt to explain them, but lets the kids speak for themselves. The results are funny, sad, and ultimately quite profound.

If you believe in your heart that, despite every hurdle, peace is possible between the Israelis and Palestinians, this film will fill you with hope and wonder. That’s not to say it’s rosy – the children depicted in the film often exhibit anger and intolerance, but the mere act of recognition between the children of these two warring groups is enough to inspire faith in their futures. This film is a beautiful document of a precious, brave and tenuous experiment on the part of the filmmakers. May we all have the courage to try to guide the next generation into a more peaceful, more understanding world.

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