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East Jerusalem, West Jerusalem: 8 Days and 8 Nights of Music, Food, and Camaraderie

2016
Distributed by Film Movement
Produced by Film Movement and Vice Versa Films
Directed by Erez Miller, Henrique Cymerman
DVD , color, 84 min.
High School - General Adult
Arab-Israeli Relations, Music, Musicians, Jerusalem


Reviewed by Sheila Intner, Professor Emerita, Graduate School of Library & Information Science, Simmons College GSLIS at Mt. Holyoke, South Hadley, MA

Highly Recommended  Highly Recommended   
 
Date Entered: 12/8/2017

As peace efforts go, musical collaborations such as the ones viewers see on this film are generally considered unimportant by world leaders and other politicians, and usually go unseen by most people. But watching David Broza and his friend Issa Freij as they spend eight days in the eastern part of Jerusalem creating an album of songs dedicated to peace between Palestinians and Israelis, is a happening that bears our attention.

Seemingly the most intractable problem, many people have lost hope that the Israelis and the Palestinians can ever find a peaceful solution to the disposition of their issues. David Broza, a successful Israeli pop star, and Issa Freij, a Palestinian cinematographer, decide to collaborate to record an album of David’s peace songs by spending eight days working together with like-minded musicians and singers at an East Jerusalem recording studio. Viewers see excerpts from the recording sessions as well as background on how the songs are conceived, how the musical combos are devised, and what the impact is on all of them. There are also extensive shots of the East Jerusalem neighborhood in which the recording studio is located that cannot help but expand the knowledge of viewers familiar solely with Jerusalem’s holy sites. The songs are inspiring, the performances are outstanding, and the entire project appears to have had lasting success in the form of continuing workshops and collaborative performances.

Outstanding musical artists collaborate with Broza, including a wonderful Palestinian singer named Mira Awad. Others include Fadi Awad, Steve Earle, Muhammad Mughrabi, Jean-Paul Zimbriz, and the Jerusalem Youth Choir—an enthusiastic and talented group of Palestinian and Israeli young people.

Technically speaking, the video is respectable, though not outstanding. A few segments are dark or unrevealing, but they are only a small part of the whole. As someone who has personally visited a number of the Jerusalem sites shown in the film, the images are vivid and well captured. The audio is excellent, which is very important for a documentary focusing on music making. The subtitles (translations for Hebrew and Arabic dialog) are clear and readable. The scenes of actual recording are excellent—educational in their own right as examples of this very complicated craft—and the music itself, although not this reviewer’s particular cup of tea, is bright and agreeable.

Not only is this documentary a worthy peace effort, but it demonstrates how one or two individuals can make an enormous difference in many lives. It raises the hope that others will emulate their experience.