Arna's Children. A film by Juliano Mer Khamis
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Uploaded on Apr 6, 2011
Leading Palestinian Peace Activist & Theater Director, Juliano Mer-Khamis, Killed in Jenin.
JULIANO MER-KHAMIS: My name is Juliano, and I'm the director of the Freedom Theatre in Jenin refugee camp. The Freedom Theatre is a venue to join the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation. We believe that the Third Intifada, the coming intifada, should be cultural, with poetry, music, theater, cameras and magazines.
This place never had a theater. This place never was exposed to these arts. So, actually, we are building everything from scratch. We are building capacity, building of actors. We are building capacity, people of audience. You know, sometimes it's easier to create actors than audience. We are dealing with the young generation to expose them to these arts.
The location of the Freedom Theatre—and don't let this view to deceive you—we are sitting in the mid of the most attacked and poor refugee camp in Palestine: the refugee camp of Jenin. We are talking about almost 3,000 children under the age of 15 suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. It means they pee in their pants when they are 11. It means they cannot concentrate. They cannot deal with each other without violence.
ARNA'S CHILDREN tells the story of a theatre group that was established by Arna Mer Khamis. Arna comes from a Zionist family and in the 1950s married a Palestinian Arab, Saliba Khamis. On the West Bank, she opened an alternative education system for children whose regular life was disrupted by the Israeli occupation. The theatre group that she started engaged children from Jenin, helping them to express their everyday frustrations, anger, bitterness and fear. Arna's son Juliano, director of this film, was also one of the directors of Jenin's theatre. With his camera, he filmed the children during rehearsal periods from 1989 to 1996. Now, he goes back to see what happened to them. Yussef committed a suicide attack in Hadera in 2001, Ashraf was killed in the battle of Jenin, Alla leads a resistance group. Juliano, who today is one of the leading actors in the region, looks back in time in Jenin, trying to understand the choices made by the children he loved and worked with. Eight years ago, the theatre was closed and life became static and paralysed. Shifting back and forth in time, the film reveals the tragedy and horror of lives trapped by the circumstances of the Israeli occupation.
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All revenues from Arna's Children DVD sale are donated towards The Freedom Theatre project.
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