about the film
refusing to be enemies: the zeitouna story is a 58-minute long documentary film that profiles without Hollywood patina a self-formed group of twelve ordinary women calling themselves “Zeitouna,” the Arab word for "olive tree." These six Arabs and six Jews weave an unusual and intimate tapestry of sisterhood. Some of the women are American-born, others are immigrants; one is a Holocaust survivor, another is a survivor of the Nakbah’s terror; their ages span 40 years. Filmmaker Laurie White is a founding member of Zeitouna. Her camera became an invisible member of this sisterhood, capturing the interior of this sacred space without ever upsetting and altering the fragile process of the group’s awakening. The film does not attempt to answer questions of right and wrong, or how to break the deadlock of the Middle East conflict. Instead it offers living proof of how the journey of personal transformation may pave the way to socio-political transformation and peace.
refusing to be enemies was directed and produced by Laurie White, while she remained an authentically active member of Zeitouna throughout the filming. Only after the group had been meeting for two years did she approach them with the idea of the documentary. She was convinced that their model and their story could be a stepping stone for others wanting to bridge terrifying divides. Entrusting White with their story. The Zeitouna sisters allowed the cameras to sit with them through 24 months of meetings. The camera also documented an emotional sojourn to Israel and Palestine that five Zeitouna sisters took together in spring of 2006. White’s immense gratitude to her Zeitouna sisters is twofoldfor their mere existence and for the blessing they have bestowed on the work on this film.
refusing to be enemies features an original instrumental score by Shaun Williams, co-produced by Laith Alattar, that combines classic Arabic and Jewish Klezmer instruments in a harmonious fusion of melodies as well as two songs written and performed by Laurie White.
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