Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Leila Sansour filming Open Bethlehem. Image copyright of Open Bethlehem.

Leila Sansour filming Open Bethlehem. Image © Open Bethlehem.

Open Bethlehem: another first for Hastings

Irrespective of religious beliefs, culturally at this time of year many are reminded of childhood Christmas stories and hymns, writes Hilda Kean. The opening lines of the nineteenth century carol are still remembered by those who have not set foot inside a church for years: “O little town of Bethlehem / How still we see thee lie”.   

Nowadays Bethlehem is anything but quiet as film maker Leila Sansour – best known for her feature‐length film, Jeremy Hardy versus the Israeli Army – demonstrates in her documentary Open Bethlehem first released last Christmas and being shown this Tuesday in Hastings. Far from Bethlehem being a model for a multi-faith Middle East it is a town, as Sansour documents, in crisis surrounded by the apartheid wall built by the Israeli government to separate communities who have previously lived together peaceably.

Sansour returns to Bethlehem, the town of her childhood, that she had wanted to leave. Her short stay stretched to five years of filming – and includes the building of the apartheid wall. Open Bethlehem is about the director’s personal journey: it is also about the destruction of whole communities.

The Guardian gave the film a 4-star review and it has been shown at film festivals worldwide including the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. Hastings Palestine Solidarity Campaign presents Open Bethlehem another Palestinian cultural first for Hastings. The documentary will be screened as a community event at the Observer Building in central Hastings.

It might not get you in the mood for a warm glow nostalgic Christmas but may show the extent to which peace and justice are needed now more than ever in the Middle East.

The screening is on Tuesday 8 December at 7pm
Venue: Observer Building, Cambridge Road, Hastings TN34 1DT
Advance donations to support the event are being collected at gofundme.

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Posted 09:35 Wednesday, Dec 2, 2015 In: Campaigns

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