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Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival

The Field

Dir. Mordechai Vardi, Israel, 2017, 72 min., in Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles

In Gush Etzion Junction, a small city in the West Bank between Jerusalem and Hebron, Ali Abu Awwad dedicates his family’s field as a Palestinian center for nonviolence.

Ali’s life has not been easy. His brother was killed by an Israeli soldier during the Second Intifada, and he, like his activist mother, has served substantial time in an Israeli prison. At first, Ali fantasized about revenge and imagined the number of dead Israelis it would take to heal his pain and anguish. Despite the complexity of his feelings, Ali, with the assistance of a local Israeli settler named Shaul Judelman, repurposes his anger over the conflict to create ”Roots,” a grassroots effort dedicated to advancing co-existence and political reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Rabbi Mordechai Vardi, the Director of THE FIELD, is an Orthodox Jew who also lives in Gush Etzion. Following the Roots initiative since late 2014, Rabbi Vardi captures hours and hours of dialogue between Palestinians and Israeli settlers residing in Gush Etzion. His fly-on-the-wall documentation offers viewers an opportunity to observe these conversations intimately, yet with enough distance to objectively comprehend the challenges, strengths, and limitations of the troubled region’s unique and ambitious peace initiative.

In 2015, as Gush Etzion Junction suffers a wave of amplified violence and Roots activists are confronted by a reality where their own relatives are being attacked, it is unclear if continuing to share one another’s narratives is enough to quell participants’ upsurge of resentment and fear.

Special Guests: Rabbi Mordechai Vardi, Director of The Field.