WDN Members Celebrate the Legacy of Their Investment in the Film ‘Budrus’

Many WDN members were involved in funding the documentary film Budrus, which followed a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who united Palestinian political factions and also Israeli activists in a non-violent struggle to save his village from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier. After a fundraising drive led by WDN’s Middle East Peace and Democracy Circle, WDN became executive producers of the film.

The creators of the film had a big vision. They wanted to do more than to tell the story of this village; they wanted to inspire others to work toward non-violent solutions in the Middle East.

It is hard for filmmakers to assess the long-term impacts of their work, but in the case of Just Vision, which uses film and educational tools to tell the stories of Palestinians and Israelis who pursue freedom and peace using nonviolent means, they decided to try.

So using surveys and other qualitative methods, they gathered evidence of the impact of the film in the area.  They noticed that Ayed Morrar was receiving invitations to speak at venues that had not previously hosted non-violence leaders. Other villages reported attendance spikes at demonstrations after the film was screened there.

In addition, the way that the media covered demonstrations in the region shifted following the release of the film. Not only did media coverage increase, but after the release of the film,  media coverage tended to emphasize the strategic non-violence of the campaign and the role of women’s leadership. Prior to the release of the film, the demonstrations were depicted as chaotic riots and threats to law and order.

Just Vision also learned that the film had not adequately connected with youth, so they produced a follow-up piece, a graphic novel that told the story of Budrus from the perspective of a 15 year-old Palestinian girl who organizes women to join the protests.  This graphic novel has been shared with 1,500 students in the Palestinian Territories.

A final realization was that international audiences didn’t know that the movement, which had started in Budrus, had spread to other Palestinian communities, or how their engagement would matter. They have used subsequent films to demonstrate how the work builds on itself and influences outcomes for other places and organizing campaigns.

Carol Winograd, a WDN member who is active in the Circle, is proud of the role WDN members had in serving as executive producers for the film because the investment has had a multiplier effect.

First, it is not clear that the filmmakers would have been able to complete the film without the funding from WDN members. They also needed funding to submit the film to film festivals. The film was screened at more than 30 festivals, and won awards at 14 of them.

“Because of the funding from WDN, they were able to get awards, publicity and visibility,” said Carol.  Finally, Just Vision has screened the film all over the Palestinian Territories, sharing local models of nonviolent ways of addressing the occupation.

Carol is also pleased to see Just Vision making more films, and is pleased to have had a role in their success.

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