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'Peacebuilding on Screen' film series highlights human dignity, compassion, and courage in the face of conflict

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It’s an unlikely union: Amid bullet holes and the bureaucracy of occupation, an Israeli Jewish woman and a Palestinian man fall in love. Their marriage, documented in “Love During Wartime,” is part of a five-film series that highlights stories of human dignity, compassion, and courage in the face of conflict.

The “Peacebuilding on Screen” series is a welcome reprieve, considering the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Kenya bracing for a possible fresh eruption of ethnic tensions, and feelings of helplessness in the face of brutality from Libya to Syria.

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It screens June 20-26 at the Silverdocs Documentary Film Festival in Maryland, but many of the films are showing at other film festivals.

Recommended:'Restrepo' filmmaker Tim Hetherington killed photographing war in Libya

“Love During Wartime” masterly illustrates the uneasy coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians in human terms. Osama comes alive as a determined sculptor, loving uncle, and tender husband of a woman whose country forbids them to live together. Jasmin, the daughter of a Jewish woman born in Nazi Germany, struggles to remain a caring wife as she becomes angry about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians – at one point joking that she will get around to folding Osama’s laundry when Israel stops building settlements.

Such humanity also shines forth in “The Team,” which documents a Kenyan soap opera about a soccer team that overcomes ethnic tensions to succeed – a poignant national metaphor. “The Team” is filmed in such an intimate way that the audience may actually duck as it follows an actor entering his tidy but tiny slum dwelling, or wince as another gets beat up. If you can’t afford to visit Nairobi, consider paying $8
to meet these faces of Kenyan courage.

Other films in the series include:

“The Rescuers”: Chronicles 12 diplomats’ efforts to rescue tens of thousands of Jews from concentration camps.

“Diary”: An experimental film by veteran war photographer Tim Hetherington, who was killed in Libya this spring.

“The Green Wave”: A tale of Iran’s 2009 protests, told through motion comic, news footage, and interviews.