We are making a feature-length documentary "Know Hope" and need your support to help us complete the film. In total, we need to raise around £75,000 to cover the entire completion costs, and a portion of this we are hoping to crowdfund.
How it all began
The journey began for me back in March 2011, after a trip to The Freedom Theatre in the Jenin Refugee camp, Palestine.
Four days after I had returned to the UK, Artistic Director of the theatre, Juliano Mer-Khamis, was murdered, shot multiple times by a masked gunman. This shocking event drew me to know more about the theatre, the world it inhabited, its history and future. I wanted to tell the story of one person in particular, Zakaria Zubedi the co-founder of this ground-breaking children’s theatre and ex-leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs brigade in Jenin. He is an icon of resistance and like so many from Palestine, evokes a sustained resilience and character that remains determined to seek justice and accountability.
Zakaria was once the most wanted man is Israel for his part in resisting the occupation during the second Palestinian uprising. In 2007, he renounced militancy for Israeli amnesty, committing himself solely to cultural resistance and soon became one of the symbols for the cultural movement in Palestine. This fact has made him a continued target, not just from Israel but from the Palestinian Authority as well.
Know Hope is about the elemental issues of self-determination, of the desire for peace, and the never ending search for a resolution to the situation. This complex story follows the ascent of people seeking to fight occupation through culture or arms, even as the situation in the occupied territories descends deeper into an oppressive stranglehold on the Palestinian people.
Zakaria's story has unfolded in incredible and surprising ways, ways that I could never have predicted when I first started filming. Shooting by myself or in small crews, I had to discover the landscape of Palestine and the Israeli occupation first hand, in order to fully understand how and why Zakaria has made certain choices in his life.
Zakaria's life story is a metaphor for the Palestinian struggle; he represents their past and is hopeful for their future. He wants peace with Israel, but peace cannot come without freedom; this must come before the other. Having spent his entire life living under Israeli occupation and labelled a refugee in his native land, his greatest desire is simply to be free.
Through all the suffering in Zakaria's life, his outlook is still incredibly hopeful and enlightened. He no longer puts his hope in a distressingly compromised two state solution but behind a movement for equal rights for all between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. The right of Palestinian refugees and diaspora Jews to return to the land and share the riches of a binational democracy.
Know Hope, will capture the beauty and persistent if weary sense of hope that characterizes the dignity of the Palestinian people through the story of Zakaria Zubeidi, an icon of resistance from Jenin. It is small wonder that a kind of political nihilism takes root in so many corners of Palestine as they have never known what it would be like to live within a compassionate and responsive national order. Yet, Zubeidi, like so many from Palestine evoke a sustained resilience and character that remains determined to seek justice and accountability.
Distinguished Professor of Drama and Human Rights, University of Connecticut.
Artistic Associate, The Freedom Theatre.
Why the film is important
One of the most socially significant impacts Know Hope could have is to show the World, that previously vilified and controversial resistance fighters like Zakaria are human, and are not motivated by religious extremism, the ideology of Martyrdom or by the narrative of driving the Jews into the sea. Reconciliation cannot be imposed by the strong on the weak, and genuine reconciliation can only come from mutual respect. Zakaria can offer meaningful discourse for a future one state inclusive solution, with rights based on citizenship rather than race and ethnicity.
Avi Shlaim said in the introduction to his book Israel and Palestine:
“I draw comfort from the historical knowledge that nations, like individuals, can act rationally
- after they have exhausted all other alternatives”
Oxford, April 2009
The artistic style
Know Hope is a combination of poetic, reflective and expository narratives told from Zakaria’s perspective, and that of the Palestinian people. These stories are framed with the beautiful poetry of Mahmoud Darwish, which offers a thought provoking foundation to Zakaria and the Palestinian communities, and adds an emotive layer to their situations elevated above simple fact. As a whole this compliments the idea of cultural resistance which runs as a constant theme throughout Know Hope.
How the money will be spent
I've funded this film personally so far, and I've never looked for funding until now.
We need your help to cover costs for translation from my last trip in April 2016, fund my next and final filming trip to Palestine, then get the film finished. Having spent over five years filming, we have huge body of work to go through, and we would benefit from the experience of a seasoned documentary film editor, to get the film ready for 2017. We will also need to cover expensive legal fees, as well as pay for news footage and the use of Mahmoud Darwish's poetry.
“Why are we always told that we cannot solve our problem without solving the existential anxiety of the Israelis and their supporters who have ignored our very existence for decades in our own homeland?” - Mahmoud Darwish