It takes a village to unite the most divided people on earth.
Budrus is an award-winning feature documentary film about Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who unites Palestinian political factions and invites Israeli supporters to join an unarmed movement to save his village of Budrus from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier. Success eludes them until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launches a women’s contingent that quickly moves to the front lines. Struggling side by side, father and daughter unleash an inspiring, yet little-known, movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that is still gaining ground today. In an action-filled documentary chronicling this movement from its infancy, Budrus shines a light on people who choose nonviolent strategies to confront a threat. The movie is directed by award-winning filmmaker Julia Bacha (co-writer and editor of Control Room and co-director Encounter Point), and produced by Bacha, Palestinian journalist Rula Salameh, and filmmaker and human rights advocate Ronit Avni (formerly of WITNESS, Director of Encounter Point). Read more information about the crew and cast. While this film is about one Palestinian village, it tells a much bigger story about what is possible in the Middle East. Ayed succeeded in doing what many people believe to be impossible: he united feuding Palestinian political groups, including Fatah and Hamas; he brought women to the heart of the struggle by encouraging his daughter Iltezam's leadership; and welcoming hundreds of Israelis to cross into Palestinian territory for the first time and join this nonviolent effort. Many of the activists who joined the villagers of Budrus are now continuing to support nonviolence efforts in villages from Bil’in to Nabi Saleh to Hebron to Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. While many documentaries about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict either romanticize the notion of peace, or dwell entirely on the suffering of victims to the conflict, this film focuses on the success of a Palestinian-led unarmed struggle. For information regarding the rights of the film, and how to bring it to your community, visit the Budrus FAQ. Watch Budrus online here.
Ayed Morrar, an unlikely community organizer, unites Palestinians from all political factions and Israelis to save his village from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier. Victory seems improbable until his 15-year-old daughter, Iltezam, launches a women’s contingent that quickly moves to the front lines.
Struggling side by side, father and daughter unleash an inspiring, yet little-known movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that is still gaining ground today. In an action-filled documentary chronicling this movement from its infancy, Budrus shines a light on people who choose nonviolence to confront a threat yet remain virtually unknown to the world. The movie is directed by award-winning filmmaker Julia Bacha (co-writer and editor Control Room, co-director Encounter Point), and produced by Bacha, Palestinian journalist Rula Salameh, and filmmaker and human rights advocate Ronit Avni (formerly of WITNESS, director of Encounter Point).
While this film is about one Palestinian village, it tells a much bigger story about what is possible in the Middle East. Ayed succeeded in doing what many people believe to be impossible: he united local Palestinian political factions, including Fatah and Hamas; he brought women to the heart of the struggle by encouraging his daughter Iltezam's leadership; and he welcomed hundreds of Israelis to cross into Palestinian territory for the first time and join this nonviolent effort.
Budrus includes diverse voices from the Palestinian leaders of the movement and their Israeli allies to an Israeli military spokesman, Doron Spielman, and Yasmine Levy, the Israeli border police officer stationed in the village at that time. While many documentaries about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict either romanticize the notion of peace, or dwell entirely on the suffering of victims to the conflict, this film focuses on the success of a Palestinian-led nonviolent movement.
In a keynote address immediately following the debut of Budrus at a Gala screening at the Dubai International Film Festival in December 2009, Her Majesty Queen Noor Al Hussein of Jordan praised the film, stating that Budrus: “Gives an enormous amount of hope... It’s a story which will have an impact and can help bring change.”
When I first met Ayed Morrar, the protagonist of Budrus, in September 2007, he was adamant that he was not worthy of a documentary film. Yet all Palestinian grassroots leaders he suggested I talk to quickly sent me back to him. It became clear that the unarmed struggle Ayed launched in 2003 to resist the building of Israel’s Separation Barrier through his village had become a role model to local activists. I hope this film can have the same effect on its viewers as the village’s efforts had on those who experienced it: inspiring more people to believe in, cover, support and join the unarmed struggles taking place throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories today.
For more than ten years now, villages across the West Bank have experienced a resurgence in nonviolent strategies to resist the Israeli occupation. Combining tactics borrowed from the first intifada in the 1980’s with the active participation of Israeli and international activists, this movement, though still fragile, carries great potential for the region. Ayed’s village, Budrus, was one of the very first communities to engage in this type of resistance and is held up as a model for what civil disobedience looks like in this context and what it can achieve.
Ayed succeeded in doing what many people believe to be impossible: he united rival political parties Fatah and Hamas; he brought women to the heart of the struggle by supporting his daughter Iltezam's leadership; and he welcomed hundreds of Israelis to cross into Palestinian territory and join the struggle.
I was lucky to work with an incredible team of Palestinians, Israelis and North Americans at Just Vision, an organization dedicated to documenting and disseminating the work of Palestinian and Israeli civilians working for freedom, dignity, equality and human security for all. Through extensive research, we were able to collect footage from over a dozen activists who had been in Budrus at some point during the movement. We also built an enduring relationship with Iltezam Morrar, Ayed’s teenage daughter, whose charisma and strength provide the heartbeat of the documentary, as it did for the struggle.
The film would not have been complete, however, without hearing the point of view of the Border Police officers who had to deal with what was one of the first organized unarmed movements to challenge the route of the Separation Barrier. We were fortunate that the squad commander, Yasmine Levy, agreed to talk earnestly with us. We were also able to include the perspective of Captain Doron Spielman, an Israeli Army spokesperson at the time.
Today, from Nabi Saleh to Ni’lin, Bil’in to Sheikh Jarrah, every week Palestinians from all political factions, along with Israeli and international supporters, often with women leading, gather to protest the confiscation of olive groves, house demolitions and settlement growth. They do so in creative ways and to varying degrees of success, yet remain virtually unknown. We hope this film can help bring them out of anonymity so we can all benefit from their courageous work.
Julia Bacha (2009)
Winner, Best Documentary & Audience Award, Common Memory International Film Festival, Morocco, 2013
Winner, Panorama Audience Award Second Prize, Berlin International Film Festival, 2010
Winner, Special Jury Mention, Tribeca Film Festival, 2010
Winner, Audience Award, San Francisco International Film Festival, 2010
Winner, Honorable Mention for Best Documentary in the Spirit of Freedom Award, Jerusalem International Film Festival, 2010
Winner, Witness Award at Silverdocs Film Festival, 2010
Winner, Honorable Mention of the Jury, Documenta Madrid 10
Winner, Amnesty Italia Award, Pesaro Film Festival, 2010
Winner, Founders Prize, Best of Fest, Nonfiction, Traverse City Film Festival, 2010
Winner, Checkpoints Award, Bergen International Film Festival, 2010
Winner, Festival des Libertés Prize, Festival des Libertés, 2010
Winner, Spirit of Freedom Documentary Award, Bahamas International Film Festival, 2010
Winner, Amnesty's Matter of Act Human Rights Award, Movies That Matter Film Festival, 2011
Winner, Jury Award for Excellence in Documenting a Human Rights Issue, Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival, 2011
PUMA.Creative Impact Award, 2012
The Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film and Digital Media, 2011
The Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize, 2011
Circles of Change Award, 2010
The Common Ground Award, 2010
King Hussein Leadership Prize, 2009
Our team created Budrus with the explicit goals of putting Palestinian and Israeli nonviolence efforts at the center of local and international discourse about the conflict, as well as building the capacity of nonviolent activists in the field by ensuring they gain traction within their own societies and abroad. Just Vision recognized the advantages of film early on: the immersive storytelling experience invites large numbers of people to briefly suspend disbelief and invest themselves in a particular narrative, even if that narrative falls outside of their deep-rooted political perspectives. Further, film takes viewers beyond the platitudes that dominate discourse around controversial issues and allows them to examine the human implications of a particular topic. But even while recognizing these benefits, we knew we needed targeted media outreach and an intensive public education campaign to maximize the impact of this story. For more on Just Vision's theory of change read Julia Bacha's editorial in Forbes: Shifting Narratives in Documentary: A Case Study of Budrus.
Visualizing Palestine created this infographic based on research conducted by StrategyOne, a daughter company of the public relations firm, Edelman, which analyzed all English-language media coverage relating to the village of Budrus before and after the film's release. The results showed that coverage prior to the release of the film characterized the protest in Budrus as riots and disturbances of the peace. After the launch of the film in 2009, most of the media coverage described the events in Budrus as a nonviolent struggle initiated by the residents to save their lands and olive trees. The StrategyOne findings showed that the film not only put Budrus on the map, but successfully shifted the media narrative around the protests from one of riots to one of a strategic nonviolent campaign.
Provides background information and discussion questions exploring themes including the role of women in grassroots leadership, unity across political factions, movement building and more.
Download 36-page PDF.
For answers to frequently asked questions about Budrus, please visit the FAQ page.
'Budrus' [offers] an intimate, cinéma vérité glimpse of a world viewers would otherwise never see, not to mention cheering news from a region better known for cyclical tragedy.
The must-see documentary of the year.
This is documentary storytelling of rare quality.
A powerful film filled with the kind of hope you rarely see around this issue.
With deep insight, hope and moments of brilliant humor, "Budrus" personalizes the political and demonstrates in the most invigorating way that change starts with each of us. We can make a difference. It's what we've been waiting for - a Palestinian human triumph. A call to action that promises to spark a movement. A film that is a true vehicle for change. I can't think of anything more exciting!
A strong piece of work from intelligent filmmakers
[Budrus] gives an enormous amount of hope... It's a story which will have an impact and can help bring about change.
[Budrus] will single-handedly change how many people view the conflict. It's that good, and that important.
A heartwarming David and Goliath tale.
A poignant chronicle
This story is a journey that stretches beyond borders to provide hope, and it should be seen by everyone.