(London ) Film director Leila Sansour returns to Bethlehem to make a film about her home town, soon to be encircled by a wall. She left the city as a teenager thinking that Bethlehem was too small and provincial. She never wanted to return but this time she is making an exception. She intends her film to be a tribute to her late father, founder of Bethlehem University. As Bethlehem approaches ruin her decision to flee this sleepy town, taken much to her father’s regret, comes to haunt her.
Armed with her camera and a dilapidated family car that keeps breaking down, Leila plans to make an epic film about a legendary town in crisis but just few months into filming her life and the film take an unexpected turn when cousin Carol, Leila’s last relative in town, persuades her to stay to start a campaign to save the city.
As the pair launch Open Bethlehem Leila finds herself trapped behind a wall in the very place she so much wanted to leave. The face of Bethlehem is changing rapidly with potentially detrimental consequences. Reports predict that if trends continue the Christian community of Bethlehem, a city that provides a model for a multi faith Middle East, may be unsustainable within one generation. Leila’s plan to stay a year stretches to seven, and is only resolved when she realizes that, sometimes, the biggest dreams take flight from the smallest places.
‘Open Bethlehem’ is a story of a homecoming to the world’s most famous little town. The film spans seven momentous years in the life of Bethlehem, revealing a city of astonishing beauty and political strife under occupation. The film draws from 700 hours of original footage and some rare archive material. In fact the making of this film has led to the creation of one of the largest visual archive of Bethlehem in the world and plans are currently being discussed with University College London (UCL) to turn the collection into a museum.
While telling a personal story, the film charts the creation of a campaign to compel international action to bring peace to the Middle East. As the credits roll, there is snow over Bethlehem. Leila has stayed long enough to realize that she is home for good and her battered little family car takes to the sky. Sometimes, if you want to fight for a better world, you may have to work miracles!
Plans for Distribution: The Open Bethlehem documentary will be released in the UK at Christmas 2014. The film will also be made available on DVD, VOD and through online viewing.
During the distribution of the film Open Bethlehem will rely on its old and new ambassadors as well as a good network of supporting organizations that have backed the film and the Open Bethlehem campaign for outreach and strategy. These include The Tipping Point Film Fund, The Carter Centre, Development and Peace Canada, WorldView, Amnesty International, Caritas, Trocaire, The McCabe Educational Trust, Dubai Film Festival, Holy Land Trust, Palestine Solidarity campaign in the UK and Greenbelt.
We are currently seeking partnerships as well as financial and logistical support towards 1st tier (cinemas) and 2nd tier (universities and church halls) distribution of the film.
Organise a screening: It is very easy to support us. Please spend some time inviting your friends and those with influence in your community if you hear of a local screening. We are working to bring the film to as many cities and communities as we can in the UK. You can also organise your own. We very much welcome your input and initiative. Whether you can persuade your local cinema to screen the film, or you want to organise a viewing at a university or church or school, we are eager to hear from you.
|You can see OPEN BETHLEHEM in December in the following cinemas:|
|05 Dec||MILE END, Genesis Cinema||Screening and Q&A with Leila Sansour||18.30||BUY|
|06 Dec||YORK, Picturehouse||Screening||15.45||BUY|
|07 Dec||KENSAL RISE, Lexi Cinema||Screening and Q&A with Leila Sansour, hosted by Tipping Point Film Fund||15.30||BUY|
|07 Dec||CAMBRIDGE, Arts Picturehouse||Screening and Q&A with Leila Sansour||20.15||BUY|
|08 Dec||CROUCH END, Arthouse Crouch End||Screening and Q&A with Leila Sansour& Jeremy Hardy||18.15||BUY|
|09 Dec||DALSTON, Rio Cinema||Screening and Q&A with Leila Sansour||18.30||BUY|
|10 Dec||EAST FINCHLEY, The Phoenix Cinema||Screening and Q&A with Leila Sansour||17.45||BUY|
|11 Dec||EDINBURGH, Edinburgh Filmhouse||Screening and Q&A with Leila Sansour & Paul Laverty, chaired by Lee Randell||18.00||BUY|
|12 Dec||GLASGOW, Glasgow Film Theatre||Screening and Q&A with Leila Sansour & Kathy Galloway, chaired by Irvine Welsh||18.00||BUY|
|13 Dec||DUNDEE, DCA||Screening and Q&A with Leila Sansour chaired by Simon Bateson||14.30||BUY|
|13 Dec||ABERDEEN, Belmont Filmhouse||Screening and Q&A with Leila Sansour chaired by Simon Bateson||20.00||BUY|
|14 Dec||INVERNESS, Eden Court||Screening and Q&A with Leila Sansour & John Glenday, chaired by Simon Bateson||15.00||BUY|
|15 Dec||OXFORD, Phoenix Picturehouse||Screening and Q&A with Leila Sansour||17.45||BUY|
|16 Dec||BRISTOL, Watershed Bristol||Palestine Film Festival Screening and Q&A with Leila Sansour||18.00||BUY|
|18 Dec||NORWICH, Cinema City||Screening||18.15||BUY|
|19 Dec||BRIXTON, Ritzy Picturehouse||Screening and Q&A with Leila Sansour, Jeremy Hardy & Adjoa Andoh , hosted by Tipping Point Film Fund||18.00||BUY|
|20 Dec||CHICHESTER, New Park||Screening||21.30||BUY|
|23 Dec||CHICHESTER, New Park||Screening|
If you are interested in organizing a screening please contact our screening coordinator Georgina Reeves.
PHONE: +44 (0)7841 873 277