Bassam Aramin, Bushra Awad, Rami Elhanan, Meytal Ofer, Leonard Cohen
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… a documentary that resonates for some time after the final frames, and as devastatingly sad as it is, the filmmaker’s message is one of hope.
This documentary about people connecting across a chasm of political and religious differences is profoundly moving – you will shed tears for what they have suffered, and even more tears to see the beautiful friendships that have formed against the odds.
The Narrow Bridge is an Australian production – written, directed and produced by first-time filmmaker Esther Takac, an author and psychologist who’s worked in Jerusalem with traumatised Palestinian and Israeli children.
The film begins with a memorial – a huge annual gathering where Palestinians and Israelis come together to remember those that they have lost in the seemingly endless conflict. There are people on both sides who protest the memorial, but this film concentrates on four individuals who have bridged the divide, as well as the inner workings of a group called Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families, where the warring sides unite and recognise each other’s pain.
Most moving is the comradeship between a pair of fathers – one Jewish, one Palestinian. Despite differences in faith, they share the common goal of peace as well as a specific pain – Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin, who call each other “brother”, both lost young daughters in the conflict. Also mourning the loss of a child is Palestinian Bushra Awad, whose teenage son was shot. We also meet Meytal Ofer, a Jewish woman whose father was horrifically axed to death. Her anger is palpable, her stark artworks express a mountain of pain.
Amidst all this suffering are snippets of excellent music, including the Rana Arab-Jewish Women’s Choir and Leonard Cohen – a supporter of Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families – who also speaks at the memorial. Cohen is, of course, eloquent, but so are the four the film focuses on.
Takac shows that people on both sides are suffering in the same way – they have the same grief and the same nightmares. Ultimately, this is a documentary that resonates for some time after the final frames, and as devastatingly sad as it is, the filmmaker’s message is one of hope.