Millions of lives depend on it.
Over 70 Films About Israel/Palestine You Can Watch for Free
JVP Boston has 70+ films to lend for free in our ever-expanding Israel/Palestine film library. We have some unforgettable films—both documentaries and fiction. Our films are licensed for personal use and to show to small groups. And what better time than now to gather people together for a film and discussion when community is so vital in sustaining us in this work?
So, how and why did we begin? We wanted to nourish and educate the activist community — but with no agenda, no meeting, no expectations. We settled on Sunday night films as a good way to do that. We bring activists together, welcome newcomers, provide a venue for terrific films and help grow the movement.
We have a wide array of films — occasionally with the director in attendance — and share good food and good discussions. With seven years of experience, we’ve learned how to frame fruitful discussions, and encourage people to become active in JVP.
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One JVP chapter returned a film with a note saying that it had been passed from person to person in their chapter. Another just wrote, “Great service! We will be making more requests in the near future.”
Our films have traveled throughout the U.S. and beyond. A couple of examples:
We recently sent films to a Presbyterian church in Texas. A small group will screen them to decide the ones they want to show; they will then pay the distributer the fee for a large audience who will attend their 4th annual film festival. Here’s what they wrote:
This will be our 4th Annual Film Festival and we’ve found that in addition to providing some info to our typical Caucasian neighbors, the film festivals provide an important way for Palestinians in our area to meet and reconnect. We usually show 3 films over 2 days, with Skype, discussions and a free soup supper that is a wonder to behold. We serve 10 – 15 different soups…
In 2015, ten films went to Istanbul with Gabe and Theresa, volunteers who worked at Ad.Dar – “Home” – for those who had fled their homes in Syria. They wrote:
Ad.Dar is an unpretentious five rooms on the fourth floor of an old building housing various humanitarian organizations in the central part of the city. Begun by Syrians (and Palestinians whose families have been in Syria since 1948 or the 1963 expulsions), Ad.Dar offers a place for children, older teens and those in their early 20s to find community. Film on Friday nights has been part of this; together we viewed and discussed The Gatekeepers, Where Should the Birds Fly?, 5 Broken Cameras, and several others.
We hope that you are intrigued and interested in seeing what the Israel/Palestine film library has to offer. In addition, we’ve organized the films by category (pdf) to make choosing the right film for your group an easier process.
- Watch the trailer before ordering a film.
- Consider your audience: These films can depict graphic violence and despair. However, the inspiring resilience and determination of the Palestinian people is also almost always present.
- Except for the films from the Gaza Media Center and “Some of my Best Friends are Zionists”, these films are licensed for private home viewing. If you’d like to show them in a larger venue, you must contact the distributor of the film. But you can certainly invite friends to your home!
- Unfortunately, we are unable to mail films outside of the U.S.
- Before you show the film, play it on your DVD player first to ensure that it isn’t defective. For unfathomable reasons, sometimes a DVD will get tired and quit.
- Google the films to read reviews, which, of course, are often contradictory; the contradictions can provide good prompts for discussion.
- We ask that you mail the film back within a month, unless we have made another arrangement. If you keep the envelope the film arrives in, you can just put on the SAME amount of postage on it and pop it in a mailbox since it is under the 13 -ounce limit.
- If you lose or damage the film, you are responsible for replacing it. Most of our films cost between $25 and $35.
- Although not required, we would love to know reactions to the film; this will help us guide others.
- Kindly note that the opinions shared above do not reflect those of Jewish Voice for Peace or Jewish Voice for Peace Boston; they are the opinions of those who built the film library.
We would be glad to talk with you about the films! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll arrange a time to talk.
For Jewish Voice for Peace Boston,
Pam Rogers and Diana Digges
PS: If you have film suggestions, or if you want to donate a film, let us know! Contact us at email@example.com If it would be helpful, we’d also be glad to set up a time to talk on the phone.
Full list of Israel/Palestine Films
Key to asterisks:
* Made by Palestinians.
** Treats both sides as equals and does not show power imbalance.
1913: Seeds of Conflict
1 hour 2015
Examines a critical yet overlooked moment of transformation in Palestine, long before the Balfour Declaration and British Mandate period.
Al Helm (The Dream):MLK in Palestine
93 min. 2013
“We went to the Holy Land with [a] play about King performed by the Palestinian National Theatre and an African-American gospel choir which was presented … all over the West Bank. It was an intense cultural exchange between two peoples encompassing the joy of new friendships, creative collaborations and eye opening experiences.” http://www.clarityfilms.org/mlk/
1½ hours 2004
Juliano Mer Khamis’ film on the evolution of a theatre group for children from the Jenin refugee camp which was founded by his mother, Arna.
Bethlehem to Brooklyn: Breaking the Surface
45 min. 2009
Through a writing program—one in an alternative NYC school and one in Aida Camp—we see the resilience and passion of the Latino, African American, and Palestinian teenagers. http://www.frantarrpro.com/bethlehem-to-brooklyn/
Breaking the Silence: Israeli Soldiers Talk about Hebron
38 min. 2005
The film title says it all. We also have a copy in Hebrew.
1 hour 22 min. 2011
Budrus is an award-winning film about a Palestinian community organizer and his daughter who unite political factions and invite Israeli supporters to join an unarmed movement to save their village from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier.
48 min. 2011
In south Tel-Aviv there still is a place where Yiddish and Socialism are spoken. The filmmaker writes, “I felt privileged to meet the last comrades of a mass movement that was exterminated in Europe, ignored in Israel, but whose ideas live on.”
87 min. 2015
One week after the 1967 ‘Six-Day’ War, a group of young kibbutzniks, led by author Amos Oz and Editor Avraham Shapira, recorded intimate conversations with returning soldiers. The Israeli army censored seventy percent of the recordings. The film reveals the original recordings and includes rare newsreel footage. Some of the men, now in their seventies, listen and relive their experiences.
1 hour 20 min. 2003
The everyday interaction between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians at several of the region’s Israel Defense Forces check points is shown in cinéma vérité style with no narration and very little context.
Children of Gaza
Approx. an hour 2011
Following the lives of 4 children immediately after January 2009, when more than 1,300 Palestinians, including 300 children, were killed in a three-week assault on Gaza, the film gives a unique and heartbreaking insight into the impact of war.
**Death in Gaza
1 hour 20 min. 2004
The filmmakers chronicle the lives of three Palestinian adolescents growing up in war-torn Gaza. A powerful—and surprising–ending.
I ½ hours 2008
An Israeli director explores what anti-Semitism looked like in the early part of this century. One segment takes the viewer inside a Birthright trip.
Disturbing the Peace
1 hour 22 min. 2017
Former enemies: Israeli soldiers from elite units and Palestinian fighters, many of whom endured long prison terms, joined together to say “enough” and start Combatants for Peace. http://disturbingthepeacefilm.com/resources-2/
Dreams Deferred: The Struggle for Peace and Justice in Israel/Palestine
68 min. 2011
This is a good overview that lifts up many different voices, including those from familiar organizations, describing the occupation, refusal to serve in the military, Zionism, anti-Semitism, curfew, abuse and violence.
1¼ hours 2006
Family members of slain Palestinians and Israelis share how they turned their grief into a force for change.
50 min. 2011
Photographer and Quaker activist Skip Schiel shows current life in Gaza, providing a focal point for discussion about the responsibility of U.S. taxpayers.
*Five Broken Cameras
1 ½ hours 2012
An extraordinary work of both cinematic and political activism, 5 Broken Cameras is a deeply personal account of non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements. (Review from Rotten Tomatoes) The film was co-directed by Emad Burnat, a Palestinian and Guy Davidi, an Israeli.
71 min. 2013
Palestinian youth trying to shatter the Guinness World Record for the most kites flown at once invite us inside the culture of kite flying as a form of resistance. Co-produced with young
filmmakers in Gaza.
I hour and 52 min. 2002
Four Baghdadi-Jews, all former members of the Iraqi communist party, were forced to emigrate after Israel’s founding. The divided identities and confusion of their lives, as Jews in Baghdad and Arabs in Israel, is also a much larger story of global, political and cultural disorder. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_0Ib5TQuNU
101 min. 2012
Six former heads of the Israeli internal security service, Shin Bet, reveal and evaluate the roles they played in enforcing “security” from 1967 to the present. http://www.sonyclassics.com/thegatekeepers/
*Gaza Community Media Center
Three short films document the personal impact of Israeli war crimes during the 51-day assault in July 2014. Each film is under 30 minutes. While hard to watch, the urgency of the narrators to engage us is so strong, we cannot look away. It may be possible to Skype with people from the Center while you show the films. These films can be viewed in large venues.
Memory of Homes conveys the devastation and psychological dislocation of suddenly losing family members in the rubble of their homes. The White Flag documents how the “humanitarian laws of war” are routinely and brutally ignored by the US-funded Israeli war machine. Al Wafaa, in the quietest and gentlest of voices, describes the shelling of a hospital dedicated to the care of paralyzed patients.
Holy Land: A Year in the West Bank
56 min/ 80 min 2014
Following the lives of three Palestinians and three Israelis, showing their relationship to the land and their beliefs about justice and the future, the film focuses on Israeli settlements.
98 min. 2002
Filmed just months before the second Intifada erupted in 2000, Inner Tour is about a three-day bus tour of Israel by West Bank Palestinians. The viewer sees “an extremely charged journey of deep emotional distances and contradicting realities as the travelers interact with ordinary Israelis and visit places that they feel simultaneously rooted to and alienated from.”
The Iron Wall
52 min. 2006
Providing a great historical overview, the film explains how Palestinian land was taken and how settlements work with Interviews with Jeff Halper of ICAHD, among others. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-iron-wall/
Israel vs. Israel
58 min. 2011
Israeli peace activists: a rabbi, a soldier, a grandmother and an anarchist, work to end the Israeli occupation and highlight the complexity of Israeli responses.
Israel & Palestine: A very short animated intro
6 ½ min. 2012
Jewish Voice for Peace’s introduction to Israel/Palestine provides historical context for understanding the violence happening right now.
Jerusalem: An East Side Story
55 min. 2008
“Squeezes nearly one hundred years of history into an hour or so of cinema…exposes the past forty years of Israeli military occupation policies in Jerusalem and their devastating impact on the city and its peoples.” The Electronic Intifada
The Law in These Parts
101 min. 2011
Explores the system in the Occupied Territories through testimonies of the military legal professionals who were the occupation’s architects and early enforcers. This film may work best for audiences who already have some background knowledge. http://www.thelawfilm.com/eng#!/the-film
Life in Occupied Palestine: Eyewitness Stories and Photos
59 min. 2008
An introduction to daily life in Palestine by eyewitness Anna Baltzer, a staff person at the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights and the granddaughter of Holocaust refugees. This superb and well-organized film is so intimate that it feels like a conversation with the filmmaker. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5T7ru2dxQI
Little Town of Bethlehem
1¼ hours 2010
Three men in a land tormented by fear, hatred, and division refuse to be enemies and work together to end the cycle of violence.
25 min. 2012
In the midst of unrelenting tension, an 11 year-old boy comes of age and finds remarkable
cooperation in his own backyard. The film’s short length allows time for in-depth discussion.
Occupation 101: Voices of the Silenced Majority
1 ½ hours 2007
One of the best comprehensive resources for understanding the occupation, the film details life under military rule, the role of the United States, and the obstacles in the way of a lasting and viable peace.
The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the US
85 min. 2016
We’ll lend it to youbut we think this film is so good we want you to buy it! It’s about $25.00 for personal use so you can Invite friends and family to join you for a screening. Here’s the trailer: https://vimeo.com/138338995 Buy the film at:
87 min. First released in 1981; re-released 2013
Powerfully depicts the roots and results of colonization in Palestine. This great film received a bomb threat on its initial release in the U.S.
On the Side of the Road
65 min. 2015
Former West Bank settler Lia Tarachansky looks at Israelis’ collective amnesia about 1948 when the state of Israel was declared and most Palestinians became refugees. She also exposes how the erasure of that history distorts the present.
90 min. 2014
A cinematic diary by Palestinian filmmaker Leila Sansour chronicles the building of the Separation Wall around her hometown, Bethlehem. As Rev. Desmond Tutu said, the film is “a non violent attempt to save a city that belongs to many in the world.”
72 min. 2006
What is left for Palestinian farmers who learn that in 24 hours the Israeli Army will confiscate their lands for the construction of a “Security” Wall? Working at times with a hidden camera, Palestinian-American Nida Sinnokrot films people fighting for their lives and their land.
Pressure Points: Israel, Berkeley, and the Divestment Movement
50 min. 2012
Explores the dynamics of the divestment debate and its historic significance within U.S. social justice movements and it also exposes the role of AIPAC.
Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People
50 min. 2006
This groundbreaking documentary dissects a racist aspect of cinematic history that has been virtually unchallenged from the earliest days of silent film to today’s biggest Hollywood blockbusters. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QKxHINgloA
Roadmap to Apartheid
1 ½ hours 2012
Narrated by Alice Walker, this film provides the history of apartheid in South Africa and shows why so many Palestinians feel they are living under apartheid today.
*Slingshot Hip Hop
87 min. 2007
“The culture of Hip Hop and Rap is at its most powerful, and yet its most tender, in Slingshot Hip Hop” (Chuck D, Public Enemy.) “A wonderful film about youth and their incredible resilience; really an ‘up’ in many ways!” (from a recent viewer). Jackie Reem Salloum, the American-born filmmaker and artist, is of Palestinian and Syrian descent.
Seeing through the Wall
57 min. 2017
A group of Americans went to Israel and Palestine in 2016 seeking to understand what life is like for Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories and in East Jerusalem. For many, it was a transformative journey.
Some of My Best Friends are Zionists
46 min. 2013
How do people change their minds? Jewish artists and intellectuals like Tony Kushner, Judith Butler, James Schamus, and Gary Shteyngart and several young adults talk about what they were told about Israel growing up and how they came to change their minds.
NOTE:http://www.bestfriendsfilm.com you can watch the entire film here. This film can be shown in large venues.
Star of Goliath
25 min. 2005
A multimedia piece, Star of Goliath encapsulates modern history and imperial machinations, with attention to varying Jewish views on Israel and the struggle for Palestinian survival and sovereignty. (Although this is an older film, it is powerful. A song-slide-sound piece.) http://www.davelippman.com/goliath.html
1 hour and 20 min. 2017
Grabbing headlines and turning heads at improvised tracks across the West Bank, these five Palestinian women—the first all-women racing team in the Middle East– speed their way into the heart of the gritty, male-dominated Palestinian street car-racing scene.
*Take My Pictures for Me
32 minutes. 2016
This documentary—made by two friends, one a Palestinian refugee living in the West Bank and one a Palestinian American with Israeli citizenship—explores the limits of solidarity and shared expression. Through photography and dialogue, they address freedom of movement, the 2014 war on Gaza, imprisonment, and Israeli repression of Palestinian protests both in Israel and in the West Bank.
Mohammad Al-Azza and Amahl Bishara are Palestinian co-directors and co-producers.
A companion website to the video: https://sites.tufts.edu/takemypicturesforme/
The Stones Cry Out
55 min. 2013
Palestinian Christians have always participated in the struggle of Palestinians to resist Israel’s occupation and stay on their land. As one person says in this wonderful film, despite being Christian or Muslim, “we are all Palestinians.”
*The Time that Remains
1 hour and 49 min. 2009
Covering the years from 1948 to 2008, writer/director Elia Suleiman’s film is both humorous and heartbreaking. Focusing on life within the Israeli Arab community, it was shot largely in the places in where Suleiman’s family once lived. Elia Suleiman is a Palestinian film director and an actor of Rûm Greek Orthodox origin.
They Were Promised the Sea: Arab Jews between Homeland and Promised Land
74 min. 2013
This film investigates what led to the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Morocco in the 1960’s. That exodus was inextricably linked to the Partition of Palestine, the creation of the state of Israel, and the dispossession and exile of the Palestinian people. It is visually stunning with magnificent music. https://vimeo.com/60814711
Two Blue Lines
1 hour and 38 min. 2015
Shot over a period of 25 years, Two Blue Lines examines the human and political situation of Palestinian people from before the creation of Israel to the present. By primarily featuring Israelis whose positions run counter to government policy, filmmaker Tom Hayes provides a perspective that is rarely voiced in mainstream media.
Village Under the Forest
68 min. 2013
In searching for the remains of the destroyed Palestinian village of Lubya, the film maker also offers an excellent overview of the role of the Jewish National Fund in confiscating Palestinian land. http://www.villageunderforest.com
Voices Across the Divide
57 min. 2013
Rarely heard stories shared with activist and filmmaker Alice Rothchild, focusing on the Palestinian narrative and the experience of loss, occupation, statelessness, and immigration to the US interwoven with her personal process of becoming open to learning about that painful history.
The War Around Us
75 min. 2012
Dramatically captures the isolation of the only two reporters covering Israel’s 2008 war on Gaza, in which 1400 civilians died. It received a standing ovation at the 2012 Boston Palestine Film Festival and works for a wide range of audiences. (This three-week Israeli assault is also known as Operation Cast Lead and the Gaza Massarce.)
**The Wanted 18
75 min. 2014
It’s 1987 and the first Palestinian popular movement in the West Bank is rising. Residents want local alternatives to Israeli goods. So begins the strange story of 18 cows, told from the perspective of both the cows and the activists. Directed, illustrated, and narrated by acclaimed Palestinian artist Amer Shomali.
Welcome to Hebron
58 min. 2007
In this volatile city surrounded by checkpoints and barbed wire, a teenage girl tries to lead a normal life.
*Where Should The Birds Fly
58 min. 2013
The first film about Israel’s siege on Gaza, it features the Palestinian filmmaker herself, Fida Qishta, with teenager Mona Samouni as the extraordinary narrator. Few films document so powerfully and personally the impact of modern warfare and brutal sanctions on a civilian population.
With God on Our Side
I hour 22 min. 2010
Christian Zionists believe that Jews have a divine right to the land of Israel. We think that this film will speak to the experience of many Christians, whether Zionist or not. Study guide available on line.
Young Jewish and Left
55 min. 2006
A celebration of diversity, the film weaves queer culture, Jewish Arab history, secular Yiddishkeit, anti-racist analysis, and religious/spiritual traditions into a multi-layered tapestry of Leftist politics. Filmed through out the US, it focuses on Jews who came of age after the New Left movements of the 60’s and 70’s. Older activists provide historical context. http://youngjewishandleft.org/trailer.html
2 hours 2009
Ajami is a bold crime drama set on the streets of Jaffa’s Ajami neighborhood, where Jews, Muslims, and Christians all live, and is told by a cross section of residents. The film was co-directed and co-scripted by Scandar Copti, who calls himself a “Palestinian citizen of the Israeli state” and by Yaron Shani, an Israeli Jew.
96 min. 2009
The film chronicles the adventures of a single mother, Muna, who leaves the West Bank with her teenage son with dreams of an exciting future in a small Illinois town. As her son navigates high school hallways the way he used to move through military checkpoints, the indomitable Muna scrambles together a new life cooking up hamburgers and falafel burgers at the local White Castle. Written and directed by Cherien Dabis, a Palestinian-American.
101 min. 2012
A young Canadian doctor treats pregnant women in a refugee camp in the West Bank.
71 min. 2009
On his young daughter’s birthday, like any day, Abu Laila faces a nerve-wracking shift in a Ramallah yellow cab armed only with an ex-jurist’s misplaced pride, a father’s loyalty, and a sticker reminding passengers that smoking and carrying AK-47 s are prohibited… Laila’s Birthday finds surprising humor and remarkable humanity in the fares Abu plucks from the social free fall of a city upended by war. Rashid Masharawi, a Palestinian, directed the film.
**The Lemon Tree
1 hour and 46 min. 2009
While a Palestinian widow tries to stop the Israeli Defense Minister, her next door neighbor, from destroying the lemon trees on her family farm, she develops a bond with the minister’s wife. NOTE: This is not a film of the book with the same title.
98 min. 2013
“Omar is a thriller and a romance with unabashedly melodramatic elements (there’s even a love triangle), all of which are brought into stark relief by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Helped along by an amazing cast of mostly first-time actors, ‘Omar’ feels very fresh due to its attitude, approach, and the fact that it offers no solutions.” Roger Ebert
Hany Abu-Assad, a Dutch Palestinian, is the filmmaker.
The Other Son
105 min. 2012
A provocative tale filmed in Israel and the West Bank about two young men — one Israeli, the other Palestinian — who were accidentally switched at birth.
1½ hours 2005
The film follows two Palestinian childhood friends who have been recruited for a strike on Tel Aviv and focuses on their last days together.
Hany Abu-Assad, a Dutch Palestinian, is the filmmaker.
*Salt of this Sea
104 min. 2009
Sixty years after her grandparents’ exile from Jaffe, Soraya (Suheir Hammad) leaves Brooklyn to live in her homeland. An urgent and devastating portrait of life under occupation, it exudes the claustrophobia of living in Palestine on many levels: physically, spiritually, emotionally. Annemarie Jacir is the Palestinian filmmaker.
*Wedding in the Galilee
113 min. 1998
The elder of a Palestinian village wants permission to hold a traditional wedding for his son that will extend beyond the imposed curfew. The Army commander agrees on the condition that he and his officers are invited as guests of honor at the ceremony. One of the first films made in Israel to feature a Palestinian point of view, it is an allegory of marriage, tradition, and national identity.
The film director and writer is Michel Khleifi, a Palestinian.
When I saw You
98 min. 2014
In Jordan, in 1967, tens of thousands of refugees pour across the border from Palestine. Having been separated from his father in the chaos of war, Tarek, 11, and his mother Ghaydaa, are amongst this latest wave of refugees. This is the story of a journey of adventure, love, humor, and the desire to be free.
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