The little-told story of a small but growing nonviolent opposition movement among rural West Bank Palestinians gets an airing in Julia Bacha's mostly fair-minded documentary. Budrus tells of one village's struggle to push back the Israeli security barrier that would uproot its olive trees, raze its cemetery, and cut off contact with the rest of the occupied territories. Using footage shot by members of Just Vision, her own bi-national peace organization, as well as interviews on both sides of the battle, Bacha documents the 10-month war of attrition with Israeli soldiers and border police fought by the residents of beautiful Budrus under the canny leadership of Ayed Morrar, a former militant with a sophisticated grasp of the key tools of peaceful protest. Morrar's patience and tolerance liberated the women of Budrus to join the struggle (his own teenaged daughter jumped cheerfully into a hole left by an Israeli bulldozer); he extended a warm welcome to both international and Israeli peace activists and—astonishingly—brought together warring local factions of Fatah and Hamas under one restrained banner. That the strategy worked, with help from media coverage, is nothing short of remarkable, given that along the way both sides had to contain angry, frustrated young men—boys, really—with ammo in their hands.
Iltezam Morrar, one of the village pacifists.
Runs at Varsity, Fri., Dec. 17–Thurs., Dec. 23. Not rated. 81 minutes.