Thursday, November 05, 2015

Beware bovine insurrection: nation building from the bottom up

How to put down a revolt whose prime manifestation is nurturing and milking 18 cows?

This was the problem that confronted Israeli authorities bent on subduing the Palestinian town of Beit Sahour near Bethlehem in the Occupied Territories in 1988. The Wanted 18 is a complex true story of national identity, juvenile enthusiasm, courageous resistance, non-violent action for justice, community organization, political sophistication and political betrayal. And, improbably, it is laugh-out-loud funny.

Amer Shomali's film is also the antithesis of yet another talking heads documentary, rich in line drawings and claymation as well as archival footage, reenactments, and interviews with those who lived it.

The film has been submitted as Palestine's entry this year for Academy Award nomination.

An international peace and justice organization, Just Vision, brought the film to the University of San Francisco this week. Just Vision describes its mission:

... to contribute to fostering peace and an end to the occupation by rendering Palestinian and Israeli grassroots leaders more visible, valued and influential in their efforts.

They have the infrastructure and funding to assist groups in arranging free showings of this exceptional work.

I'm not very visually literate, but this film worked brilliantly for me. Days after seeing it, I'm still thinking about what this Palestinian town learned about resistance and non-violent struggle. Highly recommended.

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