Saturday, 20 April 2019

Humbling view on life inside holy city

A DOCUMENTARY about Bethlehem will be screened in Henley.

A DOCUMENTARY about Bethlehem will be screened in Henley.

Film-maker Leila Sansour has produced Open Bethlehem to give an insight on life and suffering in her home town.

She will be attending the screening at the Chantry House, next door to St Mary’s Church in Henley, on June 9.

Sansour will present her film before the showing at 7.30pm and will then take questions from the audience once it’s finished.

Open Bethlehem is a story of her homecoming to the world’s most famous little town. The film spans seven years in the life of Bethlehem, revealing a city of astonishing beauty and political strife under occupation.

It draws from 700 hours of original footage and some rare archive material and the making of this film has led to the creation of the largest visual archive of Bethlehem in the world, while there are plans to turn the collection into a museum.

While telling a personal story, the film charts the creation of a campaign to compel international action to bring peace to the Middle East.

Sansour herself had left the city as a teenager and had never wanted to return but she made an exception to make the film, which is a tribute to her late father, the founder of Bethlehem University.

The film has since had national and international distribution and has been widely praised.

Caroline Bowder, of Northfield End, Henley, has supported Sansour in her bid to champion Bethlehem’s cause and has organised the screening.

She said: “Back in 2006, when Leila was in the early stages of production, my husband Bill and I held a fund-raising event in our house, so it is good to think that the generosity of Henley people played a part in the making of this important film.

“Thanks to Leila I am now a proud holder of a ‘Bethlehem Passport’ and have pledged to do what I can to help Bethlehem’s cause.”

The organisation Open Bethlehem, founded in 2005, invites the world to share in Bethlehem’s story, and to help her industries of olive oil, communion wines and olivewood carvings.

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