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On a desolate West Bank hilltop, 50 Israeli families live in house trailers, yards littered with rusting tricycles and old furniture. This is Migron, the largest illegal settlement outpost, built in defiance of international law and the Israeli courts. From 2011 through 2012, a battle about the fate of Migron rages through Israel's politics and Supreme Court.
Israeli anti-settlement activist Hagit Ofran leads the struggle against Migron. She is an underdog -- her group, Peace Now, is a shadow of what it once was. Powerful forces are arrayed against her.
Thus unfolds the story of "Holy Land," an unprecedented, multi-character documentary about a dramatic and tumultuous year in the West Bank. The film zeroes in on the explosive issue of the Israeli settlements: its protagonists are both Israeli settlers and the Israelis and Palestinians who oppose them. They are idealists pursuing conflicting visions of justice, heroes or villains depending on your perspective.
Director/producer Peter Cohn comes to the story with an outsider's unaffiliated perspective, gaining intimate access to the lives of key players on both sides. They include an Orthodox Israeli settler, a young Palestinian journalist, an unconventional settler rabbi, and the progressive mayor of a Palestinian town. It's a cross section of the West Bank never seen in one film: right and left, secular and religious, from Hasidim to Hamas.
As the action shifts from Palestinian villages to Israeli settlements, there are many unexpected turns: blood is shed, loved ones are lost, and homes are destroyed.
Holy Land" is also a story of families with children growing up and grandfathers facing death, of generational passage in a land of conflict and faith, and of the rhythms of life in a majestic landscape of mountains, deserts, vineyards and olive orchards.
"Holy Land" offers a comprehensive look at politics and society in the West Bank. The story is gripping, action-packed and ultimately hopeful. Non-didactic and unflinching, "Holy Land" is a film that challenges conventional viewpoints about the Palestine-Israel conflict.
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A movingly empathetic glimpse at a terrain where empathy is in perilously short supply and, surprisingly, not despairing because of its capacity to probe delicately beneath the conflicting slogans and look squarely at a slice of people caught in the West Bank's web.
Prof. Steven J. Zipperstein, Stanford University
A revealing picture of the lives, views and struggles of both Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank.
Prof. Martin Shaw, University of Roehampton; IBEI (Barcelona)
San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, 2014
UK Jewish Film Festival, 2014
Seattle Jewish Film Festival, 2015
Peter Cohn Peter Cohn is a New York film maker and writer. He makes social issue documentary films, looking for stories that explore such social and political issues as US immigration policy, domestic violence, and most recently the situation in Israel and the West Bank. Cohn also creates large scale web based resources to supplement his films, offering a wide array of videos and other materials that allow interested users to deeply explore the topics of his films. Cohn has been a member of New Day since 2007, and has distributed his films widely to universities and community organizations. Cohn's most recently completed film. "Holy Land," premiered in July, 2014 at the San Francisco International Film Festival. "Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America," premiered in April, 2010 at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. "Golden Venture," a documentary about the US immigration crisis,has been added to the collections of more than 600 universities, colleges and high schools. His first film (available from New Day, fall, 2011) "Drunks," was released in 1997. It premiered at Sundance and won the entertainment industry's Prism award for its realistic depiction of alcoholism and substance abuse.
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Raananah: A World of Our Own
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Holy Land (Abridged version)
"Holy Land" is an unprecedented, multi-character documentary about a tumultuous year in the West Bank. The film zeroes in on the explosive issue of the Israeli settlements: its protagonists are both Israeli settlers and the Israelis and Palestinians who oppose them. It's a cross section of the West Bank never seen in one film: right and left, secular and religious, from Hasidim to Hamas.
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