April 11, 2013 - An Update from filmmaker Kathy Wazana
Preview Screening draws sell-out crowd!
"Kathy Wazana has made a startlingly truthful, beautiful and fierce film that successfully explodes years of myth and manipulation with intelligence and heart. A necessary work." –– Sarah Schulman, novelist, historian, playwright (New York)
It's been an exhilarating few weeks. On March 24, thanks to the Toronto Palestine Film Festival, I was able to hold a preview screening of They Were Promised the Sea at the TIFF Lightbox in downtown Toronto. To my amazement, the screening drew a sell-out crowd, and the audience response was overwhelmingly positive. The most consistent reaction I heard was: "I had no idea... I learned so much... I wish everyone I know could see this film!”
One audience member wrote: "Your film is a GIFT and I want to thank you deeply for sharing so much so exquisitely. I am telling all of my friends and family to go see it.....AND SUPPORT IT."
Another told me: "The music is so beautiful; it brought tears to my eyes."
People who read about it on facebook have been writing with requests to bring the film to communities and campuses across North America, and beyond.
I am overjoyed with this response. In the coming days, I hope to share with you some exciting news and an invitation to the trip of a lifetime.
People are ready for a new conversation about Arabs and Jews. But we can't do it without you.
Your support is needed to make this happen.
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About the film
What does it mean to be an Arab Jew?
"As an Arab Jew, I am often obliged to explain the "mysteries" of this oxymoronic entity. That we have spoken Arabic, not Yiddish; that for millennia our cultural creativity, secular and religious, had been largely articulated in Arabic. If you go to our synagogues, even in New York, Montreal, Paris or London, you'll be amazed to hear the winding quarter tones of our music which the uninitiated might imagine to be coming from a mosque."
-- Ella Shohat,"Dislocated Identities: Reflections of an Arab‑Jew," Movement Research: Performance Journal # 5 (Fall‑Winter, 1992) p. 8.
Filmmaker Kathy Wazana set out to discover why hundreds of thousands of Jews left Morocco in the 1960s, believing their Arab homeland had become enemy territory. What she found was a country still grieving the loss of its Jewish population. Her “enemy” welcomed her home and claimed her as one of their own.They Were Promised the Sea is an intimate journey shot in Morocco, Israel-Palestine, and New York. Kathy's research into her family origins in Morocco unleashed a complex web of questions about dual identity, political opportunism, and the challenges faced by those torn between Homeland and Promised Land.
The sounds of peace
The importance of this film
They Were Promised the Sea reveals the intersections of identity, community and belonging within a complex political environment. The film exposes the political maneuvering that separated communities that had lived together for thousands of years, and also gives voice to those who resisted and continue to resist the separation of Arab and Jew.
Every scene and encounter, every witness, reminds us that there is another history of Jewish/Arab/Muslim coexistence -- a history suppressed because it doesn’t fit the narrative which claims that Jews were persecuted and expelled from their Arab homeland, and that 850,000 Arab Jews are refugees.
About the filmmaker
What we need and what you get
Screen and distribute They Were Promised the Sea, with a focus on screenings that provide opportunities for people to meet the filmmaker and engage in this important dialogue.
Raise awareness of the 2000-year history of peaceful Jewish-Arab coexistence, and of the reality that contrary to current political messaging, Arab Jews are not refugees.
Give voice to those who refuse the separation of Arab and Jew, and who hold the key to the possibility of a new Al Andalus.
Change the conversation about Jewish-Arab relations.