Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jerusalem: A War in My Land

Last summer, Arturo Perez Jr., a filmmaker from San Francisco, California, traveled to Jersualem with a mission -- to come back with a story. Art won last year's Project: Report, YouTube's first journalism contest done in partnership with the Pulitzer Center, for his short documentary, "Abilities," which explores Camphill California, a community of adults with disabilities who work and live together. As the grand prize winner, he won a $10,000 travel grant to work with the Pulitzer Center on an international reporting project and chose to go to Jerusalem. He wrote a guest blog for CitizenTube about his journey there and what his project is all about. Be sure to watch his final video, which is embedded below.


Jerusalem is a complicated place.

Trying to sum up the story of this city or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in one 10-minute film, or even in this blog post, would be disingenuous and wrong. So let me just say -- right off the bat -- that this film isn’t trying to do that.

The aim of this piece is to give context to a side of the story that doesn’t get the attention of the international media. With all the despair, distrust and anger around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, few journalists or news outlets see the benefit of highlighting peace organizations. Many people living in the area see the “peace effort” in Jerusalem as nothing more than that -- “effort” -- an effort that will never evolve into anything more.

I first arrived in Jerusalem in the summer of 2009 with only my HD camera, two mics, a still camera, a reservation at a hotel, and a contact at IEA (The Interfaith Encounter Association). I had no crew (and never got one), and I had little idea of what kind of film this would turn out to be.

Ten days later, I left more hopeful than when I arrived. Everywhere I went, everyone I talked to; the taxi drivers, the people selling flat bread, the businessmen, the students, they all wanted peace. More than that, they were all desperate for it.

This is the story of two of them.

Hope you enjoy it.

- Arturo Perez Jr.


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