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Back So Soon

Our two weeks back in the Middle East has come to an end... we're back in the States just in time for Thanksgiving. After our time at the Syrian border, we made our way into Israel. We spent the first few days in Jerusalem and Ramallah catching up with Mohammad and Liat while grabbing last minute b-roll and audio for Our Land

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On Friday, we hung out with our friends Elias D'eis and Said Beik who worki at Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem. They were sharing with us some of the exciting things coming up like a cultural festival taking place in Bethlehem this summer. They're doing great things in Palestine and we're hoping to collaborate with them on future initiatives. Check out what they're up to at www.OpenBethlehem.org.

After hanging out with our Holy Land Trust friends, Elias Halabi invisted us to dinner with his family. It was great catching up with him. He's been busy working on a music festival in Bethlehem and working on various photo projects that advocate Palestinian culture.  

We traveled north to Nazareth on Saturday morning to stay with our new friends Hunter and Lauri. They run a young life club up there and we got to hang out with the students and hear from them about their struggles with identity living as Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. It was very interesting hearing them discuss and debate with each other about what peace looks like in the Holy Land. During our time in the north, we met Fadi Batrice, a Palestinian painter who also expressed his concern with living as a Palestinian outside of the West Bank and Gaza. This is a voice we have not expressed in any our films so it was good to hear from these people living in Nazareth and to understand their perspective of the conflict. We're planning on putting together a short video of some of the conversations we were able to film.

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Anna and I made one last visit before our long journey back home. Neve Daniel. A Jewish settlement just outside of Bethlehem. Whenever we tell a Palestinian that a Jewish settler speaks about peace in our documentary, they question how this is even possible. How could a settler, a person who essentially lives on stolen land, advocate for peace? We thought the same thing... until we met Nachum last summer. I'm not saying we are advocating for settlements, we still think the building of these Jewish neighborhoods are unacceptable and harmful. But Nachum has truly challenged our way of thinking. It was great seeing him and his family before we left on Tuesday. We're excited to tell his story, along with Mohammad's, Elias' and Liat's through our film. 

We are very thankful for the people we've met and the stories we've heard during our short time in the Middle East. Anna and I speak on behalf of the entire crew to say that we are excited to finish this film and get it out there. 

-Joe

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A Day at the Syrian Border

Before flying to the Middle East last week, I anticipated that my heart would be moved, but I didn’t expect it to be broken.

This past Monday, Joe and I went up to northern Jordan, just a few miles from the Syrian border in order to meet with Syrian refugees. We traveled with the Schill family with the hopes to create a short video that will share the experience of the American family’s journey into the homes of the refugee families.

I was hoping that waiting a few days to write this post would allow me time to process through the stories the Syrian families told us. But I have no idea how to sort through my thoughts and emotions right now.  I’ll do my best to share a few thoughts.

As I think back to bits and pieces of the stories shared, deep sadness overwhelms me. In the first home we stopped at, the father recounted what his family has been through as the Syrian war rages on. One story he shared that brought tears to his eyes and completely breaks my heart consisted of a very near death experience:

Militiamen came to his door and were beating him and kicking him with their steel-toed boots. Their intention was to kill. His wife and young daughter were in the doorway only hoping for his life to be spared. Finally, the daughter ran out and threw herself in front of the men, and the father begged the militia to let them go. Miraculously, one of the men was moved or prompted by the young girl to leave them alone, so their lives were spared. After they left, the young daughter wiped the blood off of her father’s face. Jenna, the daughter, is still traumatized by their experiences in Syria, and the road to recovery and healing will be long.

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It breaks my heart because I could tell how much the father loves and cares for his family, but he is completely powerless in his situation. Even though they managed to escape to Jordan, they now live as a refugee. Living conditions are extremely poor. Jobs are nearly impossible to come by. And dignity is hard to hold on to.  In the next home, one mother explained that what keeps her from giving up on life are her children. She cannot give up because she has the responsibility to provide a future for her children. That is true for many of the Syrians now.

As we continue to process the stories, we don’t want them to just become memories. We want them to move us to do something. There are several ways we all can help, including providing aid and relief and financially supporting the people and organizations directly involved. On this trip, I am also being reminded of the importance of prayer. We are all capable of praying, therefore, let us all pray for the Syrians. There is power in that.

-Anna

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New Trailer and Site!

The last few weeks have been crazy for Within Broken Borders and our current production, Our Land. We are beyond excited to see how things are beginning to come together in the post-production phase.

The trailer to Our Land is officially up and open to the public, so watch it now and share it with others! We also have the film website up and ready. Go to the site to watch the trailer there, learn a little about each of the four characters in the film, and follow all the film updates. We’re pushing for a Spring 2014 release, so stay tuned!

And again, we just want to say THANK YOU! We seriously could not do it without your support, encouragement, excitement, and prayer. So, we are thankful for you.

-Anna

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Exciting Ventures

Hey everyone! We’ve got lots of exciting things coming up! I spent last week in Denver with Anna to prepare for the next big step: becoming a 501-c3 organization. Though we’ve been working together since 2010, we are finally on our way to becoming a non-profit organization. That’s right, you heard it here first: you will be able to donate directly to us rather than through our umbrella organization, Allegro. In the mean time, we still need your help with the costs it takes to become a 501-c3 org. You can head over to our DONATE page on our new website to give!

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We’ve also been working hard on our first feature film, “Our Land.” What the heck is “Our Land”, you ask? Well, we weren’t too keen on keeping “They Shall Be Called” as the official title for our film. After many sleepless hours, the team came up with “Our Land”. Short and sweet. All this to say, we’re launching the official film website WITH the newest trailer next week!

We are very excited about what’s ahead. Thank you very much for all your support and encouragement. We’ll keep posted on new project coming up, the latest on our film and much more.

-Joe

 

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The Editing Process

Filming is just a fraction of the work when it comes to documentary projects (or any kind of film for that matter). Once the interviews and broll are captured, returning home means coming back to the majority of the work - editing. It’s a crazy process: organizing hundreds of video files, transcribing interviews, laying out a story structure, and building a rough cut. With that as a base, music, sound design, motion graphics, and other pieces are then added to make it shine.

I love the editing process (which is good, seeing as I’m the project’s lead editor). It’s all about understanding the different elements of your story and how it fits together. In our case, it’s figuring out how to take the overarching story (the Israel-Palestine conflict), four characters’ individual stories, and 1 terabyte of footage, and then weave all of it into one complete film. Basically, it’s a massive jig-saw puzzle.

A few weeks ago, Joe, Anna, and myself spent several days editing together in LA. 10 hours of interviews, 84 pages of typed transcriptions, 4 highlighters, and 1 roll of tape later, we managed to pull together an entire storyboard and rough script of the film!

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That’s the film behind us. If you can read it, you get a sneak peek. ;)

With that mountain conquered, on to the next! In a couple of weeks we will have a new trailer finished up, and shortly after that, an entire rough cut. There is a lot to do before getting to a completed, polished film, but we are still working towards a spring release.

Keep checking back for updates, including the new trailer and film title!

-Mandie

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Final Days

Greetings from Los Angeles! Our trip has come to an end. Mandie and I returned to the US last week while Anna and Nate went to Kenya to film a short with our friends. It was sad to leave Israel/Palestine and all of our friends but the trip was a complete success. We made the most out of our 15 days there. 

We spent the last couple days with Nachum and his family. We still had a whole lot to film with them including one last interview with Nachum. But even in the rush of getting everything we needed within the last 48 hours of our trip, we had an incredible time with them. After filming the last interview and capturing plenty of b-roll, Nachum pulled this sensational plant from their garden and made us probably the best the tea I’ve ever had. We relaxed, danced to One Direction, performed crazy card tricks, and laughed until our stomachs hurt. 

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The next morning, we arrived at their home again for the final day of filming. Right as we walk in, Nachum and Ori sat us down telling us that they had a gift for us. They pulled out their guitar and harmonica and started singing a traditional Jewish song. Nachum insisted that we kept our cameras away so that our souls could rest and be in a peaceful state. There we were, sitting in the middle of one of the biggest conflicts in the world and we were reminded of the importance of rest.

Meeting Nachum and Liat was a huge blessing for our team. We learned a lot from them and we are thrilled to have them be a part of the story alongside our Palestinian friends, Muhammad and Ellias. The story we are trying to tell is bigger than all of us and we are honored that God could use these four incredible people to share it.

Mandie and Anna are flying to L.A. in a couple weeks. We will be forming the storyline during our time together. We’re planing on having our first rough cut complete by October 1st. Stay connected for more photos, clips and a new trailer. We’re very excited about moving forward.

-Joe

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Walking Stories

We got to spend our day in Bethlehem, which was such a treat. Joe, Mandie and I explored the markets and right away we got invited into one of the shops for tea. I love that people will just stop what they’re doing in order to visit with visitors.

In the evening, we stopped by Elias’ home (also a character in our film) and had a great time catching up with him over Arabic coffee and dinner.

Elias is an incredible photographer who loves to take pictures that depict the beauty in Palestine. One thing he said that really stood out to me was that everybody is a walking story. We tend to miss out on so much in all of the busyness of life, but if we take the time to stop and listen, so many intriguing stories can be discovered. In many ways, photography and film encourage you to look for stories all around you.

Being able to work on this film over the last year and a half has allowed us to meet so many people willing to share their stories that often include a lot of heartache, but also hope.  Getting to be a part of their lives over the last few months has taught us so much about loving others and living life well, even amidst an ongoing conflict.

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As-salamu alakum,

Anna

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The Greatest of These

It’s been a while since our last post, but the last few days have been incredible. Our team just got back from the north of Israel. We spent a night in Haifa and then drove over to the Sea of Galilee. Being at the location where Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount was so powerful and beautiful. Our film, “They Shall Be Called,” is based on Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.”

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The four people we have interviewed for the film are striving to be peacemakers in such a complicated conflict, and they refuse to give up. Over the last few days, we have learned so much about what it means to be a peacemaker through the stories and thoughts they have shared with us. During our second interview with Nachum, he said that it is not about being a peace activist, but it’s all about trying to genuinely love one another. And in order to love others, you must first change your own heart, which requires vulnerability and the process of forgiving the other. Once that happens (which takes time) peace will follow. We got to visit Mohammed in Ramallah (he’s in the 7-minute film), and he talked about the importance of changing within before changing the whole situation. He said that the Palestinians need to learn how to love their direct neighbor, other Palestinians, and then they can learn to forgive Israelis and love them.

The hope the people have here is real, and we’re thankful we get to be a part of what is happening in this region. We truly believe that people like Nachum, Mohammed, Elias and Liat have the power to go against what society teaches and start loving one another, which changes everything.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthinas 13:13.

-Anna

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Breaking Bread

Last night was a picture-perfect evening. An event that went against all odds. Muslims and Jews (enemies by society’s standards) sat together in a small home to break the fast with one another.

Muslims are in the middle of Ramadan, which is a month where they fast from dawn to dusk, and then break the fast each evening with a big feast. Yesterday, the Jews were also fasting for Tisha B’Av, a day of mourning for the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Temples. Peace activists from both sides decided they should join one another in breaking the fast.

Nachum had invited us to join him and his family along with many other Israeli Jews to break the fast with Palestinian Muslims. So, we went to an Israeli settlement to the home of Rabbi Froman, who passed away a few months ago, to enjoy a feast together. I can’t even begin to explain the beauty of the night. Israelis were welcoming the Palestinians into their home, saying “Shalom” (peace), and Palestinians responded with, “Salaam alaikum.” People talked highly of Rabbi Froman and his endeavors to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians by coming together. The Rabbi’s wife spoke with sincerity and earnestness while expressing the importance of continuing the work of Rabbi Froman. Palestinians and Israelis went around and shared their hopes to see more and more people come together.

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We were thankful to be a part of such an impactful and hope-filled evening. Seeing people across enemy lines join one another to break bread together was a picture of genuine restoration.

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28.

-Anna

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