FRAMINGHAM – The Costin Room of the Framingham Public Library was full of silence, followed by applause, and then followed by reflective conversation, as Framingham native Stephen Apkon presented his award-winning film, Disturbing the Peace on Thursday night to a nearly overflowing room of adults.
The film, which first premiered in Jerusalem, concerns the relationships between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
According to the description provided by the Framingham Public Library, the film “follows former enemy combatants – Israeli soldiers from elite units and Palestinian fighters, many of whom served years in prison- who have joined together to challenge the status quo and say “enough””.
The documentary utilizes four main elements: Direct-to-camera interviews, footage of the interviewees’ day-to-day lives, archival footage of important events and visualization that created an ‘emotional space’.
The participants of the film include Sulaiman Khatib, Chen Alon, Jamel Qassas, Avner Wisnitzer, Shifa Al-Qudsi, Maia Hascal, Mohammed Owedah and Assaf Yacobovitz. They came together to form the Combatants for Peace, a group that practices non-violent civil disobedience against the violence between Israel and Palestine.
“In every moment we’re making a choice of where we want to stand,” Apkon said.
The filmmaker explained that his motivation for this film was to tell the experiences of both Palestinians and Israelis and what brought them to where they are today. He explained that although there is an asymmetry in the occupiers and the occupied, there is a symmetry in that both groups carry the same message for piece.
The participants of the film include Sulaiman Khatib, Chen Alon, Jamel Qassas, Avner Wisnitzer, Shifa Al-Qudsi, Maia Hascal, Mohammed Owedah and Assaf Yacobovitz.
According to Apkon, when making a documentary, “you have to choose what you want to tell.” For Apkon, this meant telling both sides of the story.
In fact, it was calculated that both parties, especially in the direct-to-camera interviews, got equal screen time. The film is nether pro-Palestinian or pro-Israel. Rather, it is a film that remains as neutral as possible, focusing on the positive relationships created by Combatants for Peace.
Apkon explained that in most films, there is a villain. In this film, there is no villain, which created a potential challenge for capturing the attention of the audience.
“In this film, the villain is the narrative self,” Apkon said, in reference to the conflict and violence outside of the Combatants for Peace.
He added that the path that most people take, the violent one, is the easy way out. Comparatively, the peaceful path, on which the Combatants for Peace march, is the more difficult one
These individuals, Apkon said, have a sort of freedom in that they are completely outside of a story that tells you how to live.
The story being told is as important as ever, considering the climate of the world today. The world is more polarized now than ever before. Apkon advised that we must “take steps in our own lives to create the visions we see.
“It’s a long path, it’s a painful past, but it’s beautiful,” Apkon said.