a film by Juliano Mer Khamis and Danniel Danniel

Written and directed by Juliano Mer Khamis and Danniel Danniel
Camera: Juliano Mer Khamis, Hana Abu Shaada, Uri Shteinmintz
Sound: Alla Khouri, Rani Nentzel
Editor: Obbe Verwer, Govert Janse
Sound design: Huibert Boon
Produced by: Osnat Trabelsi and Pieter van Huystee
Line producer: Sylvia Baan
Commissioning editor IKON: Wessel van der Hammen
International sales: First Hand Films, Esther van Messel

Arna Mer (1929-1995) led in the last years of her life a small theatre group of Palestinian children on the West Bank. Her son Juliano, who directed the group, used all those years his camera to film the rehearsals and performances of the plays. Arna Mer was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, an alternative Nobel Prize. Juliano Mer Khamis is the son of the Jewish Arna and an Arab father.

A few of the children in the theatre group are Yussef, Ashraf and A'lla. Through playing they try to cope with their memories of the refugee camp and daily reality. Arna plays an important role in the Jenin community through her dedication to the children. When the Israeli armies occupy the city, the theatre group rehearsals come to an end. But Arna won't take it lying down. She establishes an alternative educational system to replace the formal one that was practically paralysed by the Israeli occupation.

After the death of his mother and years after the theatre has closed, Juliano looks up 'Arna's children'. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has escalated again and bloody bomb attacks are the order of the day. The building that once accomodated the theatre, has been bombed. Juliano himself in the meanwhile has become a famous actor and theatre director in Israel. Back in Jenin he discovers little by little the tragic story of the theatre children who were so dear to him: Ashraf was killed in the battle of Jenin by the Israeli army, Yussef committed a suicide attack in Hadera. A'lla leads a fighting troupe when Juliano meets him.

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Juliano Mer Khamis
Is a renowned Israeli actor and theatre director living in Tel Aviv. International film projects a.o. KEDMA (2002), LA NOCE EN GALILÉE (1987), THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL (1984).

Danniel Danniel
Is a director and editor with Israeli roots, who currently works and lives in Amsterdam. He directed a.o. WINTER '89 (1997), MYKOSCH (1995) and EGG (1987) and edited TUSSENLAND (2002), THE GREAT POSTAL ROAD (1996) and METAL AND MELANCHOLY (1993).

Pieter van Huystee Film
Noordermarkt 37-39 - 1015 NA Amsterdam - t +31 20 421 0606 / f +31 20638 6255 / festival handling Matthijs Koenen