Vanguard University Screens A Groundbreaking Documentary

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On Monday, November 22 at 6:30pm, Vanguard University is holding a free screening, open to the community, of Little Town of Bethlehem at the Newport Mesa Center.

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We want our screening to help the community at large, so we will be looking at this film from an educational perspective. The future generation holds the key to stop the violence. Not just in Israel and Palestine, but everywhere.

On Monday, November 22 at 6:30pm, Vanguard University is holding a free screening, open to the community, of Little Town of Bethlehem at the Newport Mesa Center. This groundbreaking documentary shares the compelling story of three men—a Palestinian Muslim, a Palestinian Christian and an Israeli Jew—who are born into a cycle of hate but are determined to risk everything to bring an end to violence in their lifetime.

Filmed on location in the West Bank, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem, Little Town of Bethlehem brings awareness to a blossoming nonviolence movement in the Middle East that rarely makes international headlines.

Sami Awad is a Palestinian Christian whose grandfather was killed in Jerusalem in 1948. Today, he is the executive director of Holy Land Trust, a nonprofit organization that promotes Palestinian independence through peaceful means. Yonatan Shapira is an Israeli Jew whose grandparents were Zionist settlers who witnessed the birth of Israel. Today, he is an outspoken advocate for the nonviolence movement, both in his homeland and abroad. Ahmad Al'Azzah is a Palestinian Muslim who has lived his entire life in the Azzah refugee camp in Bethlehem. Today, Ahmad heads the nonviolence program at Holy Land Trust, where he trains others in the methods of peaceful activism.

The incredible stories of Sami, Yonatan and Ahmad are respectfully shared in Little Town of Bethlehem. All three men reference both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi in order to connect the Israeli/Palestenian struggle with other historical nonviolence movements that have resulted in the expansion of human rights. The stories of these three men are inspirational, but Little Town of Bethlehem was made for more than to just inspire. The filmmakers also raise the question, “How will the cycle of violence finally be broken?”

This is a great chance for the community of Costa Mesa to understand cultural differences, what role historical heritage plays and how to resolve conflict. With a greater understanding of conflicts and the historical influences behind them, this community can do more than just dream; it can take action and stop the violence.

“We want our screening to help the community at large, so we will be looking at this film from an educational perspective. The future generation holds the key to stop the violence. Not just in Israel and Palestine, but everywhere,” says Ann-Caryn Cleveland, assistant professor of cinema/digital media at Vanguard.

Little Town of Bethlehem was produced by EthnoGraphic Media (EGM), an educational nonprofit organization exploring the critical issues of our time. While this film was created to reach a global youth audience, it will connect with any viewer who desires a deeper understanding of conflict resolution.

“The major themes in the film are universal and timeless. The desire to end violence through nonviolence is not a demographic phenomenon, though often it is youth who mobilize. The theme of this film is appropriate for anyone who deals with conflict. This hopeful message of equality is for all, as Little Town of Bethlehem doesn’t focus on who is right or who is wrong—but instead on three men from different backgrounds struggling together toward a common goal through nonviolence. We feel that the nonviolent approach promoted by the film is a humanitarian message with the power to transcend religions, nations, politics, languages, and cultures,” says Jim Hanon, the writer and director.

For further information on this event, please contact Ann-Caryn Cleveland at acleveland(at)vanguard(dot)edu.

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