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Film offers promise for understanding in Mideast

Beginning Wednesday, Aug. 14, something very special started happening in Nevada City. That’s when “Promises,” a powerful 2001 documentary about Palestinian and Israeli children, opened a two-week run at the Magic Theatre. Despite winning awards at seven different international festivals (including San Francisco’s) in six countries, the film has never had a general commercial release in the U.S. So we’re really lucky to have this opportunity to see it.

(Our family borrowed a shortened video version of “Promises” a few months ago, and we showed it to around 25 people over two nights. We were all impressed, and I can’t wait to see it again.)



Basically, the filmmakers spent a few years interviewing several young people on each side of the Middle East crisis. You can read all you want in news articles and analysis, but there’s nothing like listening to children who are actually living through the situation. It’s scary and discouraging to see some of them – on both sides – explain how the very same land was promised to their people. But amazingly, the filmmakers engineer a meeting that produces so much hope – so much promise – your heart breaks at the realization that the promise seemingly can’t be fulfilled.

Or can it? If so, it could be because grownups finally understand – at a gut and heart level – that they owe it to all children to make peace in the world. “Promises” takes a giant step toward that understanding, and I hope everyone who reads this will see the film.




It couldn’t come at a better time, as our government publicly considers starting an unnecessary, dangerous war against a country that has neither attacked nor threatened to attack us. My own “promise” is to join the rest of the world and say no, not this time.

See you at the movie?

Stephen Greenberg

Nevada City


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