Open Bethlehem is now completed; had its UK release in 2015; its Bethlehem Premiere in Spring 2016 and continues its journey across the globe – the Middle East, Europe, North America. For more info click here.
NB Open Bethlehem is the new release title for The Road to Bethlehem.
- I am delighted that Tipping Point has become the home of my film in the UK. I couldn’t have a better partner in my journey to bring the story of Bethlehem to the world.
- – Leila Sansour – Open Bethlehem
What would you do to save Bethlehem?
In 2004 director Leila Sansour set out to find the answer for herself. Four years later, she found it.
This documentary is a personal story filmed over four critical years in the life of Bethlehem. This most famous little town also happens to be Leila Sansour’s hometown. She left it as a teenager, pledging never to return. But in 2004 she went home for Christmas. The journey changed her life.
The film is shot over four Christmases in the life of Bethlehem as, piece-by-piece, hundreds of slabs of concrete are lowered into place to build a wall that will seal the city from the outside world. The story is told through the eyes of the film’s director. It is her own very personal story.
To hear the latest news from Leila read her blog, or for a small taster of the film watch the clip below.
Raising the completion budget
Tipping Point Film Fund has helped raise funds in excess of £100,000 to support the editing and completion of the film, as well as the international outreach plan for the film.
The film mobilised a fund-raising base that raised more than £70,000 towards this final sum – from individual donations, collective group contributions, dedicated fund-raising events and appeals. Supporting donor organisations include Trocaire (Ireland), Development and Peace (Canada) CBA Dfid (UK), and most recently McCabe Educational Trust.
Leila has a proven track record as a feature documentary director – her first film was the internationally acclaimed Jeremy Hardy versus the Israeli Army.
The film is now complete. The campaign accompanying the film on its release will be a 2-3 year long international effort to engage the public and decision-makers on the critical issues affecting Bethlehem and Palestine more widely, and inspire audiences around the world to get involved and really help make a difference.
At the heart of the film and the campaign, founded by the director herself in 2005, is Open Bethlehem, an international campaign set up to address the state of emergency in Bethlehem. It has secured widespread attention and endorsement from world figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter and is a campaign that will enhance the film’s international impact with the intention of creating a positive impact for her home town.
Timescale & Events
TPFF hosted NGO screening for organisations working in or on the Israel/Palestine issue. Hosted at Mosaic rooms.
The film was previewed at the Royal Geographical Society in September 2014 at a sell-out event hosted by Melvyn Bragg.
Dec 2014 – and into 2015 – UK release
“One of the most remarkable and moving documentaries I have seen. The tragedy
of the Palestinians encapsulated in the life of one town, Bethlehem”
Open Bethlehem was released across the UK, beginning on December 5th. It has been shown in London, Liverpool, York, Oxford, Bristol, Norwich, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness to full house audiences with enthusiastic feedback. There were great Q&As of Leila with Jeremy Hardy, Irvine Welsh, Paul Laverty, among others. TPFF hosted two sell-out screenings at the Lexi cinema and the Ritzy Picturehouse. Screenings start again in the new year. Don’t miss the chance to see this wonderful film in the cinema.
“Leila Sansour’s documentary Open Bethlehem follows her campaign to stop occupying Israeli forces encircling her hometown with a concrete wall. Sansour’s film, which follows her attempts to unite Christians, Muslims and Jews in their desire for free access to the Holy City, is the kind of art that peace processes are built on.”
Watch the whole Guardian’s video review here.
Open Bethlehem Campaign
Integral to the release is an international outreach campaign of same name. Open Bethlehem works to promote global engagement with Bethlehem as a real and contemporary city in the Middle East. It does so by supporting the distribution of communication tools about Bethlehem to boost international interest and awareness and by promoting visits to Bethlehem through established and specialized tour operators. The campaign also works to develop a network of passionate ambassadors for the city through the Bethlehem Passport Program.
More Press Articles
Leila recently wrote this article for The Elders website, ahead of the Pope’s visit, warning that the city’s tradition of peaceful coexistence is in danger of vanishing completely.
Leila Sansour writes about her and her family’s experience of life growing up under Israeli occupation and considers the impact of Palestine’s UN Bid for recognition.
PALESTINIAN INHIBITION IN THE WALLED CITY OF BETHLEHEM
‘As a child growing up in Bethlehem, I was entrusted with burning all the political books in my father’s library whenever there was an Israeli raid. Now my city is surrounded by walls and ring-fenced by more than forty Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land.’
PALESTINE’S BID FOR UN RECOGNITION
In September 2011, as Palestine prepared for its bid for UN recognition, Leila writes about this hugely significant step. ‘The Palestinian UN bid – an uncharted territory. Is the risk going to the UN? Or is the greater risk doing it half- heartedly? Read it here.
TV and Radio
Renowned “60 Minutes” series on US network CBS report on Christian Palestinians
And for US faith group audiences, here are some syndicated radio reports about The Holy Land
Survey: Americans back Bethlehem but not sure where it is
Early on, as Leila and her team started making the documentary, they decided to commission a nationwide survey in the United States about American perceptions of Bethlehem. The findings where stunning and in total contrast to another survey we commissioned in Bethlehem at the same time.
The survey, carried out by top US political pollsters Zogby International, showed that only 15 percent of Americans realized that the biblical Bethlehem is a Palestinian city and even fewer still guessed that its inhabitants were a mix of Christians and Muslims or that Bethlehem was located in the West Bank. 15000 Americans were canvassed.
The Zogby survey showed strong support for the town in the US, where 65.5% of the population wanted the UN to list it as a world heritage site. It is worth mentioning that Bethlehem was finally listed as a world heritage site only in 2012.
The film crew also conducted 150 interviews in the streets of London at the same time producing a humorous montage of people’s perceptions. One woman said: “I don’t know where it is but I strongly believe the men there must be very attractive”. The clip did not make it into the film but it will be part of our press kit and promotional film take outs.
To read more about the survey http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/897171788.html